Parasite strain characterization is essential for the establishment of a prevention and control strategy in any endemic area. The aim of this study was to characterize different Echinococcus granulosus isolates from Iran by using DNA sequences of the mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene. Thirty livers and lungs of cattle, sheep and goats naturally infected with E. granulosus were collected from abattoirs in northern and western Iran between June and October 2007. These samples yielded 18 fertile cysts which we used for the genetic work. We designed and tested two new primer pairs which specifically amplify portions of the mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene of the two strains (G1 and G6) of E. granulosus known to occur in Iran. One primer pair amplified a fragment of 259 base pairs (bp) from only the G1 strain. The second pair amplified a fragment of 676 bp from the G6 strain. The G1 genotype was identified in all fertile cyst samples, in agreement with previous studies in Iran. Ten of our samples and a single reference sample of the G6 strain were sequenced and compared with the G1 and G6 sequences deposited in GenBank.