Sphingomonas species play an important role in the ecology of a range of marine habitats. Isolates and 16S-rRNA clones have been obtained from corals, natural and artificial sources of marine hydrocarbons and eutrophic and oligotrophic waters, and have been isolated as hosts for marine phages. In addition they are found in oceans spanning temperature ranges from polar to temperate waters. While less is known about marine sphingomonads in comparison to their terrestrial counterparts, their importance in microbial ecology is evident. This is illustrated by, for example, the numerical dominance of strain RB2256 in oligotrophic waters. Furthermore, the known marine sphingomonads represent a phylogenetic cross-section of the Sphingomonas genus. This review focuses on our present knowledge of cultured isolates and 16S-rDNA clones from marine environments.