A genotypic method for predicting rifampicin resistance in Mycobacterium leprae has been developed and rigorously tested on mouse footpad-derived and clinical specimens. A series of immobilized oligonucleotide capture probes can discriminate between wild type and mutant rpoB alleles, and positive controls are available for the most frequent mutation affecting Ser425. Two different non-radioactive detection formats have been tested with comparable success in both an industrialized and a developing country. The standardized procedure could now be used in a prospective study of potential rifampicin resistance among multibacillary patients.