Randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis using two or more primers has been reported to provide additional discriminatory ability over one primer used individually. This may be of particular application in epidemiological typing of clonal organisms, such as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157, where strain differentiation can be difficult. Using four arbitrary primers individually, and in all possible permutations, E. coli O157 isolates and other arbitrarily chosen E. coli strains were typed using RAPD analysis. For most nonclonal strains, the use of two primers resulted in increased differentiation between isolates; however, more than two primers did not increase further the discriminatory capacity. E. coli O157 isolates that produced virtually identical profiles using one primer did not show increased differentiation when using two or more primers, demonstrating that in some cases, where strains of an organism are highly related, there is limited advantage to using more than one primer in RAPD analysis.