A polyphasic approach was used to describe the phylogenetic position of 22 chitinolytic bacterial isolates that were able to grow at the expense of intact, living hyphae of several soil fungi. These isolates, which were found in slightly acidic dune soils in the Netherlands, were strictly aerobic, Gram-negative rods. Cells grown in liquid cultures were flagellated and possessed pili. A wide range of sugars, alcohols, organic acids and amino acids could be metabolized, whereas several di- and trisaccharides could not be used as substrates. The major cellular fatty acids were C16 : 0, C16 : 17c and C18 : 17c. DNA G+C contents were 57–62 mol%. Analysis of nearly full-length 16S rDNA sequences showed that the isolates were related closely to each other (>98·6 % sequence similarity) and could be assigned to the -Proteobacteria, family ‘Oxalobacteraceae’, order ‘Burkholderiales’. The most closely related species belonged to the genera Herbaspirillum and Janthinobacterium, exhibiting 95·9–96·7 % (Herbaspirillum species) and 94·3–95·6 % (Janthinobacterium species) 16S rDNA sequence similarity to the isolates. Several physiological and biochemical properties indicated that the isolates could be distinguished clearly from both of these genera. Therefore, it is proposed that the isolates described in this study are representatives of a novel genus, Collimonas gen. nov. Genomic fingerprinting (BOX-PCR), detailed analysis of 16S rDNA patterns and physiological characterization (Biolog) of the isolates revealed the existence of four subclusters. The name Collimonas fungivorans gen. nov., sp. nov. has been given to one subcluster (four isolates) that appears to be in the centre of the novel genus; isolates in the other subclusters have been tentatively named Collimonas sp. The type strain of Collimonas fungivorans gen. nov., sp. nov. is Ter6T (=NCCB 100033T=LMG 21973T).