Large restriction fragment (LRF) pattern analysis of genomic DNA using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis was performed on three reference strains, 32 sporadic isolates, and 92 nosocomial isolates from 12 epidemics of Mycobacterium chelonae and Mycobacterium abscessus. Only 17 of 30 (57%) unrelated strains of M. abscessus, compared with 10 of 11 (91%) of M. chelonae strains, gave satisfactory DNA extractions, with the remainder resulting in highly fragmented DNA. DraI, AsnI, XbaI, and SpeI gave satisfactory LRF patterns. Sporadic isolates of the two species had highly variable LRF patterns, except for one reference strain and one sporadic isolate of M. chelonae that differed by only two to five bands. Evaluation of repeat isolates from five patients monitored for 8 months to 13 years (mean, 5.8 years) revealed LRF patterns to be stable, with changes of not more than two bands. LRF analysis of the seven nosocomial outbreaks with evaluable DNA revealed identical patterns in most or all of the patient isolates and in three outbreaks revealed identity with environmental isolates. These outbreaks included endoscope contamination, postinjection abscesses, and surgical wound infections. LRF analysis of genomic DNA is a useful technique for epidemiologic studies of M. abscessus and M. chelonae, although improved technology is needed for the approximately 50% of strains of M. abscessus with unsatisfactory DNA extractions.