Vibrio sp. YB1T (=ATCC BAA-450T =LMG 20984T), the aetiological agent of tissue lysis of the coral Pocillopora damicornis, was characterized as a novel Vibrio species on the basis of 16S rDNA sequence, DNA-DNA hybridization data (G + C content is 45.6 mol%), AFLP and GTG5-PCR genomic fingerprinting patterns and phenotypic properties, including the cellular fatty acid profile. The predominant fatty acids were 16:0 and 18:1 omega7c. The name Vibrio coralliilyticus sp. nov. is proposed for the novel coral-pathogenic species. In addition to strain YB1T, which was isolated from the Indian Ocean, five additional strains of V. coralliilyticus have been isolated, three from diseased P. damicornis in the Red Sea, one from diseased oyster larvae (Kent, UK) and one from bivalve larvae (Brazil). The six V. coralliilyticus strains showed high genotypic and phenotypic similarities and all were pathogenic to P. damicornis. The closest phylogenetic neighbours to V. coralliilyticus are Vibrio tubiashii, Vibrio nereis and Vibrio shilonii.