Total genomic DNA from samples of intact mouse small intestine, large intestine, caecum and faeces was used as template for PCR amplification of 16S rRNA gene sequences with conserved bacterial primers. Phylogenetic analysis of the amplification products revealed 40 unique 16S rDNA sequences. Of these sequences, 25% (10/40) corresponded to described intestinal organisms of the mouse, including Lactobacillus spp., Helicobacter spp., segmented filamentous bacteria and members of the altered Schaedler flora (ASF360, ASF361, ASF502 and ASF519); 75% (30/40) represented novel sequences. A large number (11/40) of the novel sequences revealed a new operational taxonomic unit (OTU) belonging to the Cytophaga-Flavobacter-Bacteroides phylum, which the authors named 'mouse intestinal bacteria'. 16S rRNA probes were developed for this new OTU. Upon analysis of the novel sequences, eight were found to cluster within the Eubacterium rectale-Clostridium coccoides group and three clustered within the Bacteroides group. One of the novel sequences was distantly related to Verrucomicrobium spinosum and one was distantly related to Bacillus mycoides. Oligonucleotide probes specific for the 16S rRNA of these novel clones were generated. Using a combination of four previously described and four newly designed probes, approximately 80% of bacteria recovered from the murine large intestine and 71% of bacteria recovered from the murine caecum could be identified by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH).