Twenty isolates resembling viridans streptococci, 16 from blood and four from gastric aspirates, from 17 cases of early onset neonatal sepsis were identified by the API20 Strep, Rapid ID 32 Strep and conventional tests plus hydrolysis of methylumbelliferyl glycoside substrates. Nineteen of the isolates were identified as species of viridans streptococci and one as a Leuconostoc sp. Ten of the isolates were Streptococcus ovalis, three S. mitis biotype 1, two S. mitis biotype 2 and one each of S. sanguis, S. vestibularis, S. salivarius and S. intermedius. The Rapid ID 32 Strep and conventional plus methylumbelliferyl tests gave the same species identity for 17 of the isolates. S. intermedius was identified by the Rapid ID 32 Strep as S. constellatus and S. salivarius as S. equinus, with S. salivarius at lower probability. The API20 Strep failed to identify S. vestibularis and identified S. salivarius as S. defectivus. The absence of certain critical tests, including urea hydrolysis, does not allow the API20 Strep to identify all the currently recognised species of viridans steptococci. The species distribution was unexpected and the incidence of S. oralis and other viridans streptococci in vaginal swabs from prenatal patients is being investigated further.