Genetic variability in the species group Echinococcus granulosus sensu lato is well recognised as affecting intermediate host susceptibility and other biological features of the parasites. Molecular methods have allowed discrimination of different genotypes (G1-10 and the 'lion strain'), some of which are now considered separate species. An accumulation of genotypic analyses undertaken on parasite isolates from human cases of cystic echinococcosis provides the basis upon which an assessment is made here of the relative contribution of the different genotypes to human disease. The allocation of samples to G-numbers becomes increasingly difficult, because much more variability than previously recognised exists in the genotypic clusters G1-3 (=E. granulosus sensu stricto) and G6-10 (Echinococcus canadensis). To accommodate the heterogeneous criteria used for genotyping in the literature, we restrict ourselves to differentiate between E. granulosus sensu stricto (G1-3), Echinococcus equinus (G4), Echinococcus ortleppi (G5) and E. canadensis (G6-7, G8, G10). The genotype G1 is responsible for the great majority of human cystic echinococcosis worldwide (88.44%), has the most cosmopolitan distribution and is often associated with transmission via sheep as intermediate hosts. The closely related genotypes G6 and G7 cause a significant number of human infections (11.07%). The genotype G6 was found to be responsible for 7.34% of infections worldwide. This strain is known from Africa and Asia, where it is transmitted mainly by camels (and goats), and South America, where it appears to be mainly transmitted by goats. The G7 genotype has been responsible for 3.73% of human cases of cystic echinococcosis in eastern European countries, where the parasite is transmitted by pigs. Some of the samples (11) could not be identified with a single specific genotype belonging to E. canadensis (G6/10). Rare cases of human cystic echinococcosis have been identified as having been caused by the G5, G8 and G10 genotypes. No cases of human infection with G4 have been described. Biological differences between the species and genotypes have potential to affect the transmission dynamics of the parasite, requiring modification of methods used in disease control initiatives. Recent investigations have revealed that the protective vaccine antigen (EG95), developed for the G1 genotype, is immunologically different in the G6 genotype. Further research will be required to determine whether the current EG95 vaccine would be effective against the G6 or G7 genotypes, or whether it will be necessary, and possible, to develop genotype-specific vaccines. Copyright © 2013 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.