Streptococcus pyogenes strains were genotyped by a combination of molecular methods for highresolution epidemiologic studies of disease outbreaks. Polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) analysis of the emro gene is reported. Alone or in conjunction with other molecular techniques (16S ribotyping, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, and detection of exotoxin genes), PCR-RFLP could differentiate outbreak-related strains from contemporaneous background strains of the same M serotype. Three outbreaks were studied: pharyngitis in a boarding school (serotype M5), cross-infection in a hospital burn unit (serotype M76), and severe invasive disease in two elderly care homes (serotype R28). It was possible, for example, to identify within serotype R28 a clone with particular potential for invasive disease. In all cases, the four molecular methods yielded complementary results that were hierarchically related. Strains could be assigned to the outbreak or the background in a precise, reproducible, and rapid manner.