Between 1985 and 2000, epidemiological surveys of the American tegumentary leishmaniasis (ATL) were carried out in several rural and urban communities in Espírito Santo, Brazil. A total of 100 stocks of Leishmania
(comprising isolates from both human and canine hosts with ATL) were identified by two methods of molecular characterization, using specific monoclonal antibodies and multilocus enzyme electrophoresis. Parasite isolates from 19 municipalities were found to belong to the same zymodeme and serodeme type as of the Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis
reference strain. In contrast, our genotyping studies have shown intra-specific variation among these parasites (comparisons of the variability of the internal transcribed spacers between the small and large subunits of the rRNA genes of the 22 stocks studied revealed at least 11 genotypes). Two main clusters of ≥L. (V.) braziliensis genotypes were observed, representing parasites collected from different endemic regions in the state, where transmission reflects distinct eco-epidemiological features. Infection with this pathogen was associated with the characteristic disease forms, but neither the clinical outcome nor the response to treatment could be related to the genetic polymorphism of the isolates, as defined by using the proposed methodology.