Several species of the genus Haemophilus are well known etiological agents of pneumonia, meningitis, conjunctivitis, epiglottitis and chancroid. However, identification and speciation of Haemophilus is both time consuming and labor intensive. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI/TOF-MS) has been used by several investigators to profile proteins from intact and disrupted bacteria; consequently, MALDI/TOF-MS has emerged as a powerful tool in diagnostic bacteriology. This paper reports the use of MALDI/TOF-MS as a technique for the rapid identification and speciation of Haemophilus. This technique was used to not only identify the pathogen, H. ducreyi, but also to determine strain differences from different isolates. Mass spectral 'fingerprints' were obtained which permitted the rapid speciation of not only pathogenic forms of Haemophilus, but also those bacteria which are normally regarded as non-pathogenic and members of the normal flora. MALDI/TOF mass spectra can be acquired in 10 min, allowing the identification of Haemophilus spp. within 24 h rather than the 48 h or more needed for traditional bacteriological methods. In addition, these are the first mass spectral fingerprints available in the literature for many of these organisms.