We prospectively studied 298 patients with cystic fibrosis (mean age 11.3 years; range 2 months to 32 years; sex ratio, 0.47) for nontuberculous mycobacteria in respiratory samples from January 1, 1996, to December 31, 1999. Mycobacterium abscessus was by far the most prevalent nontuberculous mycobacterium: 15 patients (6 male, 9 female; mean age 11.9 years; range 2.5-22 years) had at least one positive sample for this microorganism (versus 6 patients positive for M. avium complex), including 10 with >3 positive samples (versus 3 patients for M. avium complex). The M. abscessus isolates from 14 patients were typed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis: each of the 14 patients harbored a unique strain, ruling out a common environmental reservoir or person-to-person transmission. Water samples collected in the cystic fibrosis center were negative for M. abscessus. This major mycobacterial pathogen in children and teenagers with cystic fibrosis does not appear to be acquired nosocomially.