Mycobacterium bovis is the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis. Various genetic typing techniques have been used to trace the reservoirs of infection; however, they have limited success in population genetics and outbreak studies. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) is a rapid phenotypic typing technique, which may be used to generate a metabolic fingerprinting and is increasingly used to characterize bacteria. When coupled with multivariate cluster analysis, this powerful combination has sufficient resolving power to discriminate bacteria down to subspecies level; however, to date this method has not been used in the differentiation of mycobacteria. Multiple isolates of the ten major spoligotypes in the UK, recovered from different geographical locations, were analysed using FT-IR. Hierarchical cluster analysis of the spectra showed that the isolates could be differentiated according to their spoligotypes. Six of the spoligotype FT-IR clusters were very homogeneous and all isolates were recovered together. However, the remaining four groups displayed a more heterogeneous phenotype, which may reflect greater variation than previously suspected within these groups. Included in the ten spoligotypes are the two most dominant isolates in the UK, designated types 9 and 17. Whilst type 17 showed a highly conserved phenotype as judged by FT-IR, type 9 showed a very heterogeneous metabolic profile and isolates were recovered throughout the dendrogram. This variation in type 9 is reflected in the high degree of diversity observed by variable number tandem repeats (VNTR) analysis, underlining the exquisite resolving power of FT-IR.