Four actinomycete strains, isolated from the overheated region of manure compost, were assigned to the genus Thermobifida on the basis of morphological, physiological and biochemical characteristics. All strains produced single, ovoid, heat-sensitive spores on dichotomically branched aerial hyphae. On the basis of chemotaxonomic traits, these isolates showed strong affinity towards members of the genus Thermobifida. Cell-wall analysis revealed the presence of meso-diaminopimelic acid, but no other characteristic amino acids or sugars in the murein (cell wall type III). According to polar lipid analysis, all strains showed PL II-type phospholipid composition; phosphatidylethanolamine and glycolipid were detected together with some unidentified phospholipids. The isoprenoid quinone composition of the new isolates differed slightly from that of the other two Thermobifida species described thus far. The partial 16S rDNA sequence similarity of the four strains reached 99.8-100%, whereas a nearly complete 16S rDNA sequence of TB100T, the representative strain of this collection, showed only 97.4 and 97.8% similarity to the corresponding rDNA sequences of the type strains of Thermobifida fusca and Thermobifida alba, respectively. These four isolates constituted a homogeneous group with levels of DNA-DNA homology ranging from 94.6 to 99.1%. The DNA-DNA relative homology values of strain TB100T to Thermobifida fusca ATCC 27730T and Thermobifida alba DSM 43795T were 48.1 and 57%, respectively. On the basis of phenotypic, chemotaxonomic and genotypic data, the strains are assigned to a new species within the genus Thermobifida under the name Thermobifida cellulolytica sp. nov. The type strain is TB100T (= DSM 44535T = NCAIM B01997T).