The genus Caulobacter is composed of prosthecate bacteria often specialized for oligotrophic environments. The taxonomy of Caulobacter has relied primarily upon morphological criteria: a strain that visually appeared to be a member of the Caulobacter has generally been called one without challenge. A polyphasic approach, comprising 16S rDNA sequencing, profiling restriction fragments of 16S-23S rDNA interspacer regions, lipid analysis, immunological profiling and salt tolerance characterizations, was used to clarify the taxonomy of 76 strains of the genera Caulobacter. Brevundimonas, Hyphomonas and Mycoplana. The described species of the genus Caulobacter formed a paraphyletic group with Caulobacter henricii, Caulobacter fusiformis, Caulobacter vibrioides and Mycoplana segnis (Caulobacter segnis comb. nov.) belonging to Caulobacter sensu stricto. Caulobacter bacteroides (Brevundimonas bacteroides comb. nov.), C. henricii subsp. aurantiacus (Brevundimonas aurantiaca comb. nov.), Caulobacter intermedius (Brevundimonas intermedia comb. nov.), Caulobacter subvibrioides (Brevundimonas subvibrioides comb. nov.), C. subvibrioides subsp. albus (Brevundimonas alba comb. nov.), Caulobacter variabilis (Brevundimonas variabilis comb. nov.) and Mycoplana bullata belong to the genus Brevundimonas. The halophilic species Caulobacter maris and Caulobacter halobacteroides are different from these two genera and form the genus Maricaulis gen. nov. with Maricaulis maris as the type species. Caulobacter leidyia was observed to cluster with species of the genus Sphingomonas. Caulobacter crescentus is synonymous with C. vibrioides and C. halobacteroides is synonymous with Maricaulis maris as determined by these analyses and DNA-DNA hybridization. Biomarkers discerning these different genera were determined. The necessary recombinations have been proposed and a description of Maricaulis is presented.