A method for grouping Streptomyces strains by fingerprints of their rRNA operons is described. In polyacrylamide gels, multicopy rRNA operon fragments in Streptomyces genomic MseI fingerprints produced intense bands which are well resolved from the less conspicuous low copy fragments interspersed between them. The high intensity multicopy rRNA bands are easily distinguished from the low intensity bands, eliminating the need for Southern blot hybridization to visualize the rRNA fragments. Direct evidence that the high-intensity bands in these polyacrylamide gels originated from rRNA operons was provided by a 'differential' Southern blot technique. We have used this method to assign 98 strains to 11 rRNA fingerprint type groups. This clustering method may be applicable to any prokaryote with a high G+C content genome.