Differentiating iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (iCJD) from sporadic CJD (sCJD) would be useful for the identification and prevention of human-to-human prion transmission. Currently, the diagnosis of iCJD depends on identification of a recognized source of contamination to which patients have been exposed, in addition to fulfilling basic requirements for the establishment of diagnosis of CJD. Attempts to identify differences in clinical manifestations, neuropathological changes and pathological prion protein (PrP(Sc)) between iCJD and sCJD have been unsuccessful. In the present study, using a variety of more sophisticated methods including sucrose step gradient sedimentation, conformational stability immunoassay, protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA), fragment-mapping, and transmission study, we show no significant differences in gel profiles, oligomeric state, conformational stability and infectivity of PrP(Sc) between iCJD and sCJD. However, using PMCA, we find that convertibility and amplification efficiency of PrP(Sc) is greater in iCJD than in sCJD in a polymorphism-dependent manner. Moreover, two protease-resistant PrP C-terminal fragments (termed PrP-CTF12/13) were detected in all 9 cases of sCJD but not in 6 of 8 cases of iCJD tested in this study. The use of fragment mapping- and PMCA-based assays thus provides a means to distinguish most cases of iCJD from sCJD.