To evaluate matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-ToF MS) as a tool for rapid identification of common clinical bacterial isolates, we analyzed 25 carefully selected isolates of pathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli) and additional Enterobacteriaceae members. Organisms were prepared according to clinical microbiological protocols and analyzed with minimal additional processing. Spectra were reproducible from preparation to preparation and comprised 40-100 peaks primarily representing intracellular proteins with masses up to 25 kDa. Spectra of 14 genetically diverse bacteremic isolates of E. coli were compared with isolates representing other genera within the Enterobacteriaceae family. Using a new spectrum comparison algorithm, E. coli isolates were closely related to each other and were readily distinguishable from other Enterobacteriaceae, including Salmonella and Shigella. Presently, the methodology permits the analysis of 40 unknown isolates per hour per instrument. These results suggest that MALDI-ToF MS offers a rapid and reliable approach for performing phyloproteomics i.e., identification of unknown bacterial isolates based on similarities within protein biomarker databases.