The names 'Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. abscessus' and 'Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. massiliense', proposed by Leao et al. (2009, J Clin Microbiol 47, 2691-2698), cannot be validly published. The purpose of this report is to provide a description in accordance with the Rules of the Bacteriological Code (1990 Revision). Moreover, the proposal of the name 'Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. massiliense' is contrary to Rule 38 and the correct name of this taxon, at the rank of subspecies, is Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. bolletii comb. nov. A description of Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. abscessus subsp. nov. and an emended description of Mycobacterium abscessus are also given.