Several soybean plant introduction (PI) genotypes have recently been described which restrict nodulation of Bradyrhizobium japonicum serocluster 123 in an apparently serogroup-specific manner. While PI 371607 restricts nodulation of strains in serogroup 123 and some in serogroup 127, those in serogroup 129 are not restricted. When DNA regions within and around the B. japonicum I-110 common nodulation genes were used as probes to genomic DNA from the serogroup strains USDA 123, USDA 127, and USDA 129, several of the probes differentially hybridized to the nodulation-restricted and -unrestricted strains. One of the gene regions, cloned in plasmid pMJS12, was subsequently shown to hybridize to 4.6-kilobase EcoRI fragments from DNAs from nodulation-restricted strains and to larger fragments in nodulation-unrestricted strains. To determine if the different hybridization patterns could be used to predict nodulation restriction, we hybridized pMJS12 to EcoRI-digested genomic DNAs from uncharacterized serocluster 123 field isolates. Of the 36 strains examined, 15 were found to have single, major, 4.6-kilobase hybridizing EcoRI fragments. When tested for nodulation, 80% (12 of 15) of the strains were correctly predicted to be restricted for nodulation of the PI genotypes. In additon, hybridization patterns obtained with pMJS12 and nodulation phenotypes on PI 371607 indicated that there are at least three types of serogroup 127 strains. Our results suggest that the pMJS12 gene probe may be useful in selecting compatible host-strain combinations and in determining the suitability of field sites for the placement of soybean genotypes containing restrictive nodulation alleles.