Few strains of thermophilic Bacillus spp are readily transformable with plasmid DNA. Given the considerable phylogenetic and phenotypic diversity amongst thermophilic bacilli, we have examined whether transformability is a trait associated with a particular phylogenetic group, by sequencing the 16S ribosomal RNA genes from transformable strains NUB3621, K1041, and NRRL1174. Although all of these strains were described in the literature as B. stearothermophilus, only NRRL1174 is closely related to the type strain of this species. Based on its 16S rDNA sequence and physiological data K1041 appeared to belong to the species B. thermodenitrificans, while NUB3621 showed a slightly closer relationship to B. thermoglucosidasius than to B. stearothermophilus. Therefore we conclude that the trait of transformability, though possibly strain-specific, is not limited to a single species of thermophilic Bacillus.