Several genotypic methods have been developed for determining the host origin of fecal bacteria in contaminated waters. Some of these methods rely on a host origin database to identify environmental isolates. It is not well understood to what degree these host origin isolates are geographically variable (i.e., cosmopolitan or endemic). This is important because a geographically limited host origin database may or may not be universally applicable. The objective of our study was to use one genotypic method, ribotyping, to determine the geographic variability of the fecal bacterium, Escherichia coli, from one location in Idaho and three locations in Georgia for cattle (Bos taurus), horse (Equus caballus), swine (Sus scrofa), and chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus). A total of 568 fecal E. coli isolates from Kimberly, ID (125 isolates), Athens, GA (210 isolates), Brunswick, GA (102 isolates), and Tifton, GA (131 isolates), yielded 213 ribotypes. The percentage of ribotype sharing within an animal species increased with decreased distance between geographic locations for cattle and horses, but not for swine and chicken. When the E. coli ribotypes among the four host species were compared at one location, the percent of unshared ribotypes was 86, 89, 81, and 79% for Kimberly, Athens, Brunswick, and Tifton, respectively. These data suggest that there is good ribotype separation among host animal species at each location. The ability to match environmental isolates to a host origin database may depend on a large number of environmental and host origin isolates that ideally are not geographically separated.