Whole-rock samples of 25 carbonaceous chondrites were analysed for contents of C, H and N and delta 13C, delta D and delta 15N. Inhomogeneous distribution of these isotopes within individual meteorites is pronounced in several cases. Few systematic intermeteorite trends were observed; N data are suggestive of isotopic inhomogeneity in the early solar system. Several chondrites revealed unusual compositions which would repay further, more detailed study. The data are also useful for classification of carbonaceous chondrites; N abundance and isotopic compositions can differentiate existing taxonomic groups with close to 100% reliability; Al Rais and Renazzo clearly constitute a discrete "grouplet"' and there are hints that both CI and CM groups may each be divisible into two subgroups.