Background: Several molecular methods potentially useful in the detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis mutations, specifically in rpoB and katG, were compared. Methods and Results: DNA from 24 M. tuberculosis clinical isolates, with mutations associated with resistance to rifampin and/or isoniazid, was analyzed. A 128 bp amplicon, spanning the 81 bp rpoB region containing most mutations leading to rifampin resistance, was analyzed by polymerase chain reaction-single-strand conformation polymorphism (PCR- SSCP) and a recently introduced mutation scanning method, cleavase fragment length polymorphism (CFLP) analysis. Also, a 350 bp amplicon encompassing that region was analyzed by the CFLP method. CFLP analysis of the 350 bp amplicon (23 isolates) identified 14 of 17 mutants; however, CFLP analysis of the 128 bp amplicon accurately identified all mutants as did PCR-SSCP with interpretative difficulty for two codon 513 mutations. CFLP and PCR- restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analyses of a 623 bp amplicon encompassing katG codons 315 and 463 showed that the CFLP method identified single and dinucleotide codon 315 substitutions with or without codon 463 (CGG→CTG) changes, whereas PCR-RFLP (Msp1) missed one codon 315 polymorphism (AGC→ACA) in three isolates. Conclusion: Both PCR-SSCP and CFLP analyses were sensitive in identifying all mutations on short sequences in the rpoB mutants. CFLP appears to be more efficient than SSCP and RFLP for the detection of mutations in large amplicons.