The intraspecific genetic diversity of Oenococcus oeni, the key organism in the malolactic fermentation of wine, has been evaluated by random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD), ribotyping, small-plasmid content, and sequencing of RAPD markers with widespread distribution among the strains. Collection strains representing the diversity of this species have been studied together with some new isolates, many of which were obtained from wines produced by spontaneous malolactic fermentation. The RAPD profiles were strain specific and discerned two main groups of strains coincident with clusters obtained by macrorestriction typing in a previous work. Ribotyping and the conservation of RAPD markers indicates that O. oeni is a relatively homogeneous species. Furthermore, identical DNA sequences of some RAPD markers among strains representative of the most divergent RAPD clusters indicates that O. oeni is indeed a phylogenetically tight group, probably corresponding to a single clone, or clonal line of descent, specialized to grow in the wine environment and universally spread.