Many of the Haemonchus contortus isolates currently used for experimental work were originally derived from different regions of the world and are commonly exchanged between laboratories. In most cases, these are largely genetically uncharacterised other than the analyses conducted on specific genes of interest. We have used a panel of eight microsatellite markers to genetically characterise five different commonly used H. contortus isolates including MHco3 (ISE), the isolate chosen for full genome sequencing as part of the H. contortus genome project. There is an extremely high level of genetic differentiation between each of the isolates except the two which have a common origin, MHco1 (MOSI) and MHco3 (ISE). We have investigated the amplification of microsatellite markers from pooled DNA as a potential method for fingerprinting different isolates. Good estimates of the true allele frequencies can be made by amplification from either pooled adult DNA or bulk L3 DNA for seven out of the eight markers tested. Both single worm genotyping and bulk DNA fingerprinting revealed no genetic differentiation between adult worms in the host and larvae derived from faecal culture. Furthermore, none of the eight markers showed genetic changes when isolates were passaged through different individual hosts. Hence the microsatellite genotyping of bulk larval DNA samples provides a simple and rapid method to genetically define and monitor laboratory isolates, and to determine their relationship with particular field populations.