The discriminatory power of four methods for typing of Listeria monocytogenes was compared. The four methods were multilocus enzyme electrophoresis (MEE), ribotyping, restriction enzyme analysis (REA), and a newly developed Danish phage typing system. Ninety-nine human clinical, food and slaughterhouse isolates of Listeria monocytogenes were typed by each method. The most discriminatory single typing method was phage typing with an overall discriminatory index (DI) of 0·88 followed by REA, MEE and ribotyping with DI-values at 0·87, 0·83 and 0·79 respectively. Considering strains from each of the two predominant O-serotypes alone, serotype 1 was best discriminated by the molecular typing methods, in particular REA, which showed a DI of 0·92. The serotype 4 strains were best discriminated by phage typing (DI = 0·78). If two or more typing methods were combined, the combination of REA and MEE were found to be the most discriminatory combination. The DI values were 0·96, 0·74 and 0·90 for serotype 1, 4, and both combined, respectively. Phage typing is a rapid and inexpensive typing method but not as reproducible as the molecular typing methods. It is the most suitable method for mass screening. In situations where results are required to be highly reliable, i.e. when studying the relationships between only a few strains, a single or a combination of molecular typing methods should be used, preferable MEE and REA.