A strictly anaerobic cellulolytic bacterium, strain CRE21(T), was isolated from a human faecal sample. Cells were Gram-negative non-motile rods that were about 1.7 microm in length and 0.9 microm in width. Strain CRE21(T) degraded different types of cellulose and was able to grow on a variety of carbohydrates. Cellulose and sugars were mainly converted to acetate, propionate and succinate. The G+C content of the DNA was 41.1 mol%. 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis revealed that the isolate belonged to the genus Bacteroides with highest sequence similarity to the type strain of Bacteroides intestinalis (98 %). DNA-DNA hybridization results revealed that strain CRE21(T) was distinct from B. intestinalis (40 % DNA-DNA relatedness). Strain CRE21(T) also showed several characteristics distinct from B. intestinalis. In particular, it exhibited different capacity to degrade polysaccharides such as cellulose. On the basis of phylogenetic analysis and the morphological, physiological and biochemical data presented in this study, strain CRE21(T) can be readily differentiated from recognized species of the genus Bacteroides. The name Bacteroides cellulosilyticus sp. nov. is proposed to accommodate this organism. The type strain is CRE21(T) (=DSM 14838(T)=CCUG 44979(T)).