Rust fungi cause economically important diseases of cereals, and their ability to rapidly evolve new virulent races has hindered attempts to control them by genetic resistance. PCR-based molecular tools may assist in understanding the genetic structure of pathogen populations. The high multiplex DNA fingerprinting techniques, amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP), selectively amplified microsatellites (SAM) and sequence-specific amplification polymorphisms (S-SAP) were assessed for their potential in investigations of the genetic relationships among isolates of the wheat rust pathogens, Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici (Pgt), Puccinia triticina (Pt), and P. striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst), the oat stem rust pathogen P. graminis f. sp. avenae (Pga), and a putative new P. striiformis special form tentatively designated Barley grass yellow rust (Bgyr). Marker information content, as indicated by the number of species-specific fragments, polymorphic fragments among pathotypes, percentage of polymorphic loci, and the marker index, was highest for the SAM assay, followed by the AFLP and S-SAP assays. UPGMA analysis revealed that all marker types efficiently discriminated the five different taxa and Mantel tests revealed significant correlations between the marker types. Within pathogen groups, the marker types differed in the amount of variation detected among isolates; however, the major differences were consistent and polymorphism was generally low. This was reflected by the AMOVA analysis that significantly partitioned 90% of the genetic variation between taxa. Of the three marker types, SAMS were the most informative, and have the potential for the development of locus-specific microsatellites.