The history, taxonomy, geographic distribution, clinical disease, and therapy of the pathogenic nonpigmented or late-pigmenting rapidly growing mycobacteria (RGM) are reviewed. Community-acquired disease and health care-associated disease are highlighted for each species. The latter grouping includes health care-associated outbreaks and pseudo-outbreaks as well as sporadic disease cases. Treatment recommendations for each species and type of disease are also described. Special emphasis is on the Mycobacterium fortuitum group, including M. fortuitum, M. peregrinum, and the unnamed third biovariant complex with its recent taxonomic changes and newly recognized species (including M. septicum, M. mageritense, and proposed species M. houstonense and M. bonickei). The clinical and taxonomic status of M. chelonae, M. abscessus, and M. mucogenicum is also detailed, along with that of the closely related new species, M. immunogenum. Additionally, newly recognized species, M. wolinskyi and M. goodii, as well as M. smegmatis sensu stricto, are included in a discussion of the M. smegmatis group. Laboratory diagnosis of RGM using phenotypic methods such as biochemical testing and high-performance liquid chromatography and molecular methods of diagnosis are also discussed. The latter includes PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis, hybridization, ribotyping, and sequence analysis. Susceptibility testing and antibiotic susceptibility patterns of the RGM are also annotated, along with the current recommendations from the National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards (NCCLS) for mycobacterial susceptibility testing.