A knee-joint exudate culture yielded on two occasions a gram-negative bacterium. Regular methods for speciation did not provide an identification. The infection was successfully treated with ciprofloxacin. The unknown isolate, CCUG 36768, was subjected to further investigation, including 16S rDNA sequencing, protein profiling, cellular fatty acid analysis, and various biochemical tests, in order to produce a species identification. The 1469 bp-long 16S rDNA sequence did not reveal identity with any known species sequence. CCUG 36768 clustered in a group of species, including Alcaligenes defragrans, Denitrobacter permanens, Taylorella equigenitalis, Alcaligenes faecalis, and four strains of Alcaligenes species without a specific species name. Bordetella species also showed a high degree of similarity with CCUG 36768. Protein profiling, cellular fatty acid analysis and computer-assisted analysis of biochemical profiles indicated similarity with Bordetella-Alcaligenes species, often close to B. holmesii and B. avium. API 20 NE indicated the profile of Moraxella species of poor identity. It is concluded that CCUG 36768 represents a new bacterial species of pathogenic potential in humans. It is related to the Bordetella-Alcaligenes group. Powerful new methods for speciation are available and it is recommended that unknown isolates from normally sterile sites be submitted for further analysis. Several isolates are required for the definition of new species.