The potential of microsatellite markers for use in genetical studies in potato (Solanum tuberosum) was evaluated. Database searches revealed that microsatellite sequences were present in the non-coding regions of 24 potato genes. Twenty-two sets of primers were designed and products successfully amplified using 19 primer pairs. These were tested against a panel of 18 tetraploid potato cultivars. Four pairs of primers designed to amplify microsatellites from tomato were also used. Seven (including 2 of the tomato sequences) failed to reveal any variation in the accessions tested. Sixteen primer pairs did reveal polymorphism, detecting between 2 and 19 alleles at each locus. Of these, 3 gave rise to complex band patterns, suggesting that multiple polymorphic loci were being amplified using a single primer pair. Heterozygosity values ranged from 0.408 to 0.921. Phenetic analysis of the derived information allowed a dendrogram to be constructed depicting the relationships between the 18 potato cultivars. The potential of microsatellite markers for genetic analysis and satutory applications in potato is discussed in the context of these results. Furthermore, the potential of 'cross-species amplification' is highlighted as an additional source of microsatellite markers for genetic research in potato.