During an epidemiologic survey, an unidentified strain of Legionella was isolated from water of a thermal spa in France. The strain (Lyon 8420412) had the cultural and biochemical characteristics typical of the genus Legionella. In direct immunofluorescence tests, the strain reacted weakly with fluorescein-conjugated antisera prepared against L. bozemanii serogroups 1 and 2, L. longbeachae serogroups 1 and 2 and L. anisa, and failed to react with sera prepared against 36 other species or serogroups. A fluorescein-conjugated antiserum prepared against strain Lyon 8420412 reacted strongly with the homologous strain and only weakly with the above-mentioned species. The cell-wall fatty acid profile, with a predominance of hexadecenoic (16:1) and hexadecanoic (16:0) acids, ubiquinone Q10 as the major quinone and a characteristic protein electrophoresis profile suggested that the isolate was different from other Legionella species. In DNA-DNA hybridization experiments, the strain was distinct from all named Legionella species, and from all unnamed species currently under study at the Centers for Disease Control. The name Legionella gratiana is proposed for the new species (type strain Lyon 8420412; CDC 1242). A serologic survey of antibodies reacting against L. gratiana indicated that personnel or patients at the spa therapy centre where the organism was isolated had higher antibody titres than a control population.