There are 10 valid species of Cryptosporidium and perhaps other cryptic species hidden under the umbrella of Cryptosporidium parvum. The oocyst stage is of primary importance for the dispersal, survival, and infectivity of the parasite and is of major importance for detection and identification. Because most oocysts measure 4-6 microm, appear nearly spherical, and have obscure internal structures, there are few or no morphometric features to differentiate species and in vitro cultivation does not provide differential data as for bacteria. Consequently, we rely on a combination of data from three tools: morphometrics, molecular techniques, and host specificity. Of 152 species of mammals reported to be infected with C. parvum or an indistinguishable organism, very few oocysts have ever been examined using more than one of these tools. This paper reviews the valid species of Cryptosporidium, their hosts and morphometrics; the reported hosts for the human pathogen, C. parvum; the mechanisms of transmission; the drinking water, recreational water, and food-borne outbreaks resulting from infection with C. parvum; and the microscopic, immunological, and molecular methods used to detect and identify species and genotypes.