Three coryneform strains isolated from clinical samples were analysed. These strains fitted the biochemical profile of Corynebacterium striatum by conventional methods. However, according to recently described identification tests for fermenting corynebacteria, the strains behaved rather like Corynebacterium minutissimum. The three isolates could be distinguished from C. minutissimum by a positive nitrate and nitrite reductase test and by not fermenting maltose; from C. striatum by their inability to acidify ethylene glycol and to grow at 20 degrees C. Genetic studies based on 16S rRNA showed that the three strains were in fact different from C. minutissimum and C. striatum (96.9 and 98% similarity, respectively) and from other corynebacteria. They represent a new species for which the name Corynebacterium simulans sp. nov. is proposed. The type strain is DSM 44415T (= UCL 553T = Co 553T).