A multilocus sequence analysis (MLSA) of strains representing all validly published Xanthomonas spp. (119 strains) was conducted using four genes; dnaK, fyuA, gyrB and rpoD, a total of 440 sequences. Xanthomonas spp. were divided into two groups similar to those indicated in earlier 16S rDNA comparative analyses, and they possibly represent distinct genera. The analysis clearly differentiated most species that have been established by DNA-DNA reassociation. A similarity matrix of the data indicated clear numerical differences that could form the basis for species differentiation in the future, as an alternative to DNA-DNA reassociation. Some species, X. cynarae, X. gardneri and X. hortorum, formed a single heterogeneous group that is in need of further investigation. X. gardneri appeared to be a synonym of X. cynarae. Recently proposed new species, X. alfalfae, X. citri, X. euvesicatoria, X. fuscans and X. perforans, were not clearly differentiated as species from X. axonopodis, and X. euvesicatoria and X. perforans are very probably synonyms. MLSA offers a powerful tool for further investigation of the classification of Xanthomonas. Based on the dataset produced, the method also offers a relatively simple way of identifying strains as members of known species, or of indicating their status as members of new species.