Seven bean rhizobial strains EBRI 2, 3, 21, 24, 26, 27 and 29 identified as Rhizobium etli, and EBRI 32 identified as Rhizobium gallicum, isolated from Egyptian soils and which nodulated Phaseolus vulgaris efficiently, were subjected to hybridization with a nifH probe in order to estimate the copy number of this gene. Seven strains (EBRI 2, 3, 21, 24, 26, 27 and 29) which were only able to nodulate Phaseolus vulgaris, contained three copies of the nifH gene, consistent with their identification as Rhizobium etli bv. phaseoli. Only one strain (EBRI 32) which nodulated both Phaseolus vulgaris and Leucaena leucocephala, had one copy of nifH gene. This confirmed the classification of this strain as Rhizobium gallicum bv. gallicum.