Candida dubliniensis is a recently identified species which is implicated in oral candidosis in HIV-infected and AIDS patients. The species shares many phenotypic characteristics with, and is phylogenetically closely related to, Candida albicans. In this study the phylogenetic relationship between these two species was investigated and a comparison of putative virulence factors was performed. Four isolates of C. dubliniensis from different clinical sources were chosen for comparison with two reference C. albicans strains. First, the distinct phylogenetic position of C. dubliniensis was further established by the comparison of the sequence of its small rRNA subunit with representative Candida species. The C. dubliniensis isolates formed true unconstricted hyphae under most induction conditions tested but failed to produce true hyphae when induced using N-acetylglucosamine. Oral C. dubliniensis isolates were more adherent to human buccal epithelial cells than the reference C. albicans isolates when grown in glucose and equally adherent when grown in galactose. The C. dubliniensis isolates were sensitive to fluconazole, itraconazole, ketoconazole and amphotericin B. Homologues of seven tested C. albicans secretory aspartyl proteinase (SAP) genes were detected in C. dubliniensis by Southern analysis. In vivo virulence assays using a systemic mouse model suggest that C. dubliniensis is marginally less virulent than C. albicans. These data further confirm the distinct phenotypic and genotypic nature of C. dubliniensis and suggest that this species may be particularly adapted to colonization of the oral cavity.