One of the major risks in cell culture laboratories is the misidentification and cross-contamination of cell lines. Several methods have been used to authenticate cell lines, including isoenzyme profiling, the test suggested by European Farmacopeia, which is performed at the Tissue Culture Centre in Brescia. However, this method displays several disadvantages, such as high variability and low reproducibility, and it is time consuming and requires high cell concentrations to be performed. Therefore, an alternative method has been developed to confirm the specie of origin of 27 different animal cell cultures. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR)–restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) assay was optimized, based on the use of a pair of primers that anneal to a portion of the cytochrome b gene in all the species. The amplification product was digested with a panel of six restriction enzymes, and the pattern derived was resolved on 3% high-resolution agarose gel. For 23 species, this protocol produced a unique restriction pattern, and the origin of these animal cells resulted to be confirmed by this analysis. Furthermore, results indicate that cytochrome b PCR-RFLP was able to amplify target sequences using very low amounts of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Its sensitivity in detecting interspecies, cross-contamination was comparable to that of isoenzyme analysis (contaminating DNA should represent at least 10% of the total DNA). For 4 of the 27 species (sheep, dog, Guinea pig, and Rhesus monkey) the observed pattern, even if highly reproducible, showed additional bands; for these species, specific PCR was also performed.