Clinical (66) and collection (38) strains of Corynebacterium spp., including C. jeikeium and CDC group D2, and of Listeria monocytogenes were examined. Conventional characters used in species identification were assessed by a microbiochemical method, and pyrolysis-mass spectrometry (Py-MS) was performed with a Horizon Instruments PYMS 200X. Classification based on Py-MS data yielded clusters that corresponded with species identification and classification groups from conventional data. One small group of clinical strains, homogeneous in conventional tests and Py-MS, comprised isolates from sputum samples from patients undergoing ventilation; they were similar to collection strains of C. renale and C. striatum; the latter species has been implicated in chest infection. Another group, similar to C. minutissimum in both systems, comprised clinical strains isolated from urogenital specimens. L. monocytogenes strains were clearly distinct from Corynebacterium spp. Groups comprising CDC D2 strains and C. jeikeium were resolved, and were similar to other Corynebacterium spp. Two collection strains of C. xerosis were distinct in conventional tests and Py-MS.