An atypical group of thermophilic catalase-negative Campylobacter strains, the 'CH' (Swiss) group, can be recovered from faeces of domestic cats and dogs after selection by filtration, or with the antibiotic cefoperazone. This group of strains shows no relative DNA homology with any species in rRNA superfamily VI (Vandamme et al., 1991, International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology 41, 88-103) except with four thermophilic Campylobacter species, notably C. upsaliensis. The group is homogeneous and possesses a DNA base composition, cellular morphology at the electron microscope level and phenotypic properties characteristic of Campylobacter. Nonetheless it is distinct from known species of Campylobacter in terms of conventional bacteriological tests, total cellular protein profile, rRNA gene profile, and genomic DNA homology. On the basis of an integrated study of phenotype and genotype, we conclude that these bacteria constitute a previously undescribed species for which we propose the name Campylobacter helveticus sp. nov. A species-specific recombinant DNA probe was cloned from the designated type strain (NCTC 12470) for use in identification and further analysis of the epidemiology, pathogenicity and transmission of C. helveticus.