Seventeen heterofermentative lactobacilli isolated from kefir grains were characterized by molecular methods. Bacterial isolates were identified by amplification of 16S rRNA gene and analysis by Amplified Ribosomal DNA Restriction Analysis (ARDRA), using the restriction enzymes Hae III, Dde I, and Hinf I. ARDRA analysis of lactobacilli isolates showed, for each enzyme used, a same banding pattern between the heterofermentative lactobacilli and the reference strains Lactobacillus kefir JCM 5818 and Lb. kefir ATCC 8007. Other reference lactobacilli and one homofermentative isolate showed differences in at least one of these patterns. The 16S-23S rRNA spacer region was also used to discriminate the bacterial isolates at the species level. The data obtained from the analysis of spacer region confirmed that sequencing of this genome region is a good tool for a reliable identification of members of Lb. kefir species. Genotyping of isolates was performed by Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD-PCR) analysis using M13, Coc, ERIC-2 and 1254 primers. Patterns obtained allowed the differentiation of isolates in three groups. The three clusters showed by RAPD-PCR analysis could be correlated with at least three different strains of Lb. kefir species in the group of heterofermentative lactobacilli isolates obtained from Argentinian kefir grains.