Bacteria of the genus Mycoplasma are the smallest organisms known to be capable of self-replication. They only occur in association with animal host cells on which they are dependant for many pre-formed nutrients since they lack many of the metabolic pathways associated with energy production and the synthesis of cell components found in other species of bacteria. It is generally thought that most species of Mycoplasma are very host specific but there are many reports of mycoplasmas in hosts that are not perceived as their normal habitat. Sometimes these "crossings" may have a pathological impact particularly where there may be predisposing conditions such as immunodeficiency. These are often reported in humans but may also occur in animals whose immune or physiological status is not known. This review brings together some of these reported incidents and speculates on their potential impact for laboratory diagnosis.