Brachyspira pilosicoli, the causative agent of porcine intestinal spirochetosis, usually has hippurate-cleaving capacity. We have regularly isolated hippurate-negative R pilosicoli from cases of porcine diarrhea. In this study, we show that these biochemically atypical B. pilosicoli isolates can be classified as B. pilosicoli. 16S ribosomal DNA was partially sequenced from eight hippurate-negative and two hippurate-positive B. pilosicoli-like isolates from seven herds. The differences in nucleotide sequence with B. pilosicoli P43/6/78 type strain were not associated with hippurate cleavage. In 877 bp, the hippurate-negative isolates had a similarity of 98.63 to 100% to the type strain, with the corresponding figures for the two hippurate-positive isolates being 98.86 and 100%. The nucleotide sequences of hippurate-positive isolates were identical to the respective sequences of hippuratenegative isolates from one herd. The DNA macrorestriction patterns of a total of 20 hippurate-negative and -positive B. pilosicoli isolates were diverse, and no clustering in conjunction with the hippurate reaction was found. In two herds, hippurate-positive and -negative B. pilosicoli isolates had a common macrorestriction pattern. The ultrastructure of hippurate-negative isolates was similar to the type strain. In conclusion, B. pilosicoli can be either hippurate positive or negative and, thus, the scheme for biochemical differentiation of porcine Brachyspira should be revised to include identification of hippurate-negative B. pilosicoli.