In the past decade, potential pathogens, including Alcaligenes species, have been increasingly recovered from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Accurate identification of multiply antibiotic-resistant gram-negative bacilli is critical to understanding the epidemiology and clinical implications of emerging pathogens in CF. We examined the frequency of correct identification of Alcaligenes spp. by microbiology laboratories affiliated with American CF patient care centers. Selective media, an exotoxin A probe for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and a commercial identification assay, API 20 NE, were used for identification. The activity of antimicrobial agents against these clinical isolates was determined. A total of 106 strains from 78 patients from 49 CF centers in 22 states were studied. Most (89%) were correctly identified by the referring laboratories as Alcaligenes xylosoxidans. However, 12 (11%) strains were misidentified; these were found to be P. aeruginosa (n = 10), Stenotrophomonas maltophilia (n = 1), and Burkholderia cepacia (n = 1). Minocycline, imipenem, meropenem, piperacillin, and piperacillin-tazobactam were the most active since 51, 59, 51, 50, and 55% of strains, respectively, were inhibited. High concentrations of colistin (100 and 200 microg/ml) inhibited 92% of strains. Chloramphenicol paired with minocycline and ciprofloxacin paired with either imipenem or meropenem were the most active combinations and inhibited 40 and 32%, respectively, of strains. Selective media and biochemical identification proved to be useful strategies for distinguishing A. xylosoxidans from other CF pathogens. Standards for processing CF specimens should be developed, and the optimal method for antimicrobial susceptibility testing of A. xylosoxidans should be determined.