β-lactoglobulin polymorphisms have been reported in the milk of different goat breeds, although no genetic variants affecting the protein have been characterized. In the present study, we amplified and sequenced the proximal promoter and the first six exons containing the entire coding region for the β-lactoglobulin gene in eleven goat breeds from Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Senegal and Asia to identify genetic variants. Fifteen polymorphisms were detected, nine in the promoter region and six in the exons of the β-lactoglobulin gene. All polymorphisms were single nucleotide substitutions with the exception of one deletion/insertion in the promoter region. The polymorphisms in the coding region did not produce any amino acid change. In addition, pyrosequencing technology was used to genotype four polymorphisms in the promoter region in 200 goats belonging to eleven breeds. Differences in allelic frequencies for these polymorphisms between breeds are described and a specific polymorphism for the Italian populations was identified. Finally, the analysis of association between these four promoter point mutations was investigated resulting in five haplotypes, GCGC being the most frequent haplotype in all breeds analysed. © Proprietors of Journal of Dairy Research 2005.