Nuclear DNA clones and sequence information derived from human genetic analyses were used to detect and characterize intra- and inter-species DNA variation at several nuclear loci in hominoids and cercopithecoids. Restriction fragment length polymorphisms were found at five loci among captive rhesus monkeys. Cross-species polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification detected an insertion within the beta-globin gene cluster in hylobatids. The combined use of cross-species PCR and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis detected both species differences and intra-species polymorphism in the homeobox cluster 2 of hominoids. These results a) demonstrate that DNA clones and nucleotide sequence information from human molecular genetics can be used to facilitate studies of the molecular genetics of nonhuman primates, and b) document specific examples of intra- and inter-species molecular variability at several loci. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.