||Acartia and Paracartia species, often known to co-occur, can exhibit complex life cycles, including the production of resting eggs. Studying and understanding their population dynamics is hindered by the inability to identify eggs and early developmental stages using morphological techniques. We have developed a simple molecular technique to distinguish between the three species of the Acartiidae family (Acartia clausi, A. discaudata and Paracartia grani) that co-occur in the Thau lagoon (43A degrees 25'N; 03A degrees 40 E) in southern France. Direct amplification of a partial region of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene by polymerase chain reaction and subsequent restriction fragment length polymorphism results in a unique restriction profile for each species. The technique is capable of determining the identity of individual eggs, including resting eggs retrieved from sediment samples, illustrating its application in facilitating population dynamic studies of this ubiquitous and important member of the zooplankton community.