Nearly complete sequences (97-99%) of the 16S rRNA genes were determined for type strains of Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis, Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. insidiosus, Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. sepedonicus, and Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. nebraskensis. The four subspecies had less than 1% dissimilarity in their 16S rRNA genes. Comparative studies indicated that the C. michiganensis subsp. shared relatively high homology with the 16S rRNA gene of Clavibacter xyli. Further comparison with representatives of other Gram-positive coryneform and related bacteria with high G+C% values showed that this group of bacteria was subdivided into three clusters. One cluster consisted of the Clavibacter michiganensis subsp., Clavibacter xyli, Arthrobacter globiformis, Arthrobacter simplex, and Frankia sp.; another cluster consisted of members of the corynebacteria-mycobacteria-nocardia (CMN) group of Mycobacteriaceae including Tsukamurella paurometabolum; and Propionibacterium freudenreichii alone formed a unique cluster, which was remote from other coryneform bacteria analyzed. The three clusters may reflect a systematic rank higher than the genus level among these bacteria.