Small subunit rDNA sequences were determined for 13 mesophilic, polysaccharolytic, mainly cellulolytic species of the genus Clostridium and one cellulolytic Eubacterium species. Sequences were compared to those of 36 representatives of mesophilic and thermophilic clostridia, including those of nine thermophilic polysaccharolytic species published previously. The majority of strains group with 23S rRNA clusters I and III, while the others group with the thermophilic polysaccharolytic clostridia, i.e. C. stercorarium, C. thermolacticum and C. thermocellum. Lack of close genetic relationships between the various polysaccharolytic species is unexpected and may indicate that these biotechnologically important organisms differ with respect to the enzymology of polysaccharolytic degradation as well.