Thirty-three strains of Rhodopseudomonas capsulata have been studied in order to develop a more comprehensive characterization of the species. On the basis of morphological, nutritional, physiological and other properties, the characteristics of an "ideal biotype" have been defined, which can be used to distinguish Rps. capsulata from similar purple bacteria. In this connection, two properties of Rps. capsulata are of particular note: a) sensitivity to penicillin G is 10(3)-10(5) times greater than that shown by closely related species, and b) all strains examined are susceptible to lysis by one or more strains of host species-specific virulent bacteriophages. It appears that members of the species Rps. capsulata form a stringent taxonomic grouping.