A previously unknown Gram-positive, non-spore-forming, non-lipophilic, catalase-positive, irregular rod-shaped bacterium (M/106/00/5(T)) was isolated, in mixed culture, from the penis of a Caspian seal (Phoca caspica). The strain was a facultative anaerobe that was able to grow at 22 and 42 degrees C. Comparative 16S rRNA gene sequencing showed that the organism formed a hitherto unknown subline within the genus Corynebacterium. Sequence divergence values of more than 5 % from other described Corynebacterium species, together with phenotypic differences, showed that the unidentified bacterium represents a previously unrecognized member of this genus. On the basis of phenotypic and phylogenetic considerations, it is proposed that the unknown bacterium isolated from a Caspian seal (strain M/106/00/5(T)=CCUG 44566(T)=CIP 107965(T)) be classified as the type strain of a novel species of the genus Corynebacterium, Corynebacterium caspium sp. nov.