The complete small subunit ribosomal RNA (srRNA) gene of Theileria parva was cloned and sequenced. Two primers were designed which permitted the specific amplification of part of the Theileria srRNA gene from Theileria-infected cell line samples which were predominantly (> 95%) bovine DNA. The sequence of the central (variable) region of the srRNA genes of T. annulata, T. taurotragi, T. mutans and two unidentified parasites referred to as Theileria sp. (buffalo) and Theileria sp. (Marula) were obtained. An alignment of the sequences was generated from which 6 oligonucleotide probes, corresponding to species-specific regions, were designed. These probes were demonstrated to provide unequivocal identification of each of the 6 species either by direct detection of parasite srRNA or by hybridization to amplified parasite srRNA genes. The probes were not able to distinguish buffalo-derived T. parva, the causal agent of Corridor disease, from cattle-derived T. parva, the causal agent of East Coast fever.