Aims: To investigate the incidence and genotype of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts in drinking water sources in Northern Ireland for the period 1996-1999, and to compare conventional and molecular methods of detection. Methods and Results: Four hundred and seventy-four waters were investigated by conventional methods, namely immuno-fluorescent antibody detection (IFA; 380) and immuno-magnetic separation-IFA (IMS-IFA; 94), of which 14/474 (3%) were positive. Two hundred and fourteen samples (214/474) were also investigated by PCR techniques, targeting both the 18S rRNA and TRAP-C2 genes, of which 11/214 (5.1%) were positive. These 11 samples were classified as genotype II following sequence analysis of the TRAP-C2 amplicon. Conclusions: This study demonstrated the low incidence of oocysts of C parvum in water sources in Northern Ireland. Significance and Impact of the Study: Such molecular-based techniques offer a number of advantages over conventional detection methodologies, namely greater sensitivity and specificity as well as the ability to provide accurate genotyping data rapidly, which may be valuable in directing operational management in potential outbreak situations.