Microbiologic culture revealed the following cause of mastitis and anorexia in 145 cows in Wisconsin to be Escherichia coli, 66 cows; Klebsiella spp, 3; Corynebacterium pyogenes, 27; streptococci, 21; staphylococci, 20; yeasts, 1; and no bacterial growth, 7. Mastitis was detected with approximately equal frequency throughout the year. Escherichia coli was isolated throughout the year, but was more common and was the predominant organism during the summer. Corynebacterium pyogenes was isolated most often in winter and spring; streptococci in fall, winter, and spring; and staphylococci throughout the year. Corynebacterium pyogenes caused most of the mastitis in nonlactating cows. Escherichia coli, C pyogenes, streptococci, and staphylococci were isolated with about equal frequency at parturition, whereas E coli was the predominant cause of mastitis in early and late lactation. Of cases of mastitis, 27% were seen 10 days before and after parturition. Local and systemic clinical signs of infection were similar for all causes, except that C pyogenes caused more (P less than 0.01) malodorous and purulent milk than did other organisms and was isolated more commonly from quarters with injured teats. Recovery was significantly (P less than 0.01) higher in cows with E coli infections, compared with recovery in cows with gram-positive organism infections. Cows with C pyogenes infections frequently had quarters that ultimately ceased lactation. A few cows were recumbent at initiation of antimicrobial therapy and a few were not eating 24 hours later; however, 50% of these cows recovered. Criteria such as season of year, stage of lactation, appearance of milk and udder, and appetite permitted the cause (gram-negative or gram-positive organisms) of the mastitis to be predicted with 77% accuracy.