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Small-subunit rRNA sequences were determined for almost 50 species of mycoplasmas and their walled relatives, providing the basis for a phylogenetic systematic analysis of these organisms. Five groups of mycoplasmas per se were recognized (provisional names are given): the hominis group (which included species such as Mycoplasma hominis, Mycoplasma lipophilum, Mycoplasma pumonis, and Mycoplasma neurolyticum), the pneumoniae group (which included species such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Mycoplasma muris), the sprioplasma group (which included species such as Mycoplasma mycoides, Spiroplasma citri, and Spiroplsma apis), the anaeroplasma group (which encompassed the anaeroplasmas and acholeplasmas), and a group known to contain only the isolated species Asteroleplasma anaerobium. In addition to these five mycoplasma groups, a sixth group of variously named gram-positive, walled organisms (which included lactobacilli, clostridia, and other organisms) was also include in the overall phylogenetic unit. In each of these six primary groups, subgroups were readily recognized and defined. Although the phylogenetic units identified by rRNA comparisons are difficult to recognize on the basis of mutually exclusive phenotypic characters alone, phenotypic justifications can be given a posteriori for a number of them.