Th relationships between the Encephalitozoon-like Septata intestinalis and other microsporidia that occur in humans, notably Encephalitozoon cuniculi and Encephalitozoon hellem, is insufficiently documented using morphological descriptions alone. To assess mutual relationships, we have examined other phenotypic as well as genetic aspects of S. intestinalis, obtained both from tissue culture and clinical specimens, in comparison with a number of other microsporidia. Phenotypic characterization was performed by analysis of the protein composition and antigenic structure of various microsporidian spores by SDS-PAGE and Western blotting. The genetic characterization consisted of the determination of the sequence of the S. intestinalis rrs gene encoding the small subunit ribosomal RNA (srRNA), restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of amplified rrs genes and establishment of the degree of sequence identity between rrs genes of various microsporidian species. The unique sequence of rrs of S. intestinalis as well as the distinct RFLP and SDS-PAGE profiles indicate that S. intestinalis is clearly different from other human microsporidian species. However, its rrs gene shared about 90% sequence identity with rrs of both Encephalitozoon spp., E. cuniculi and E. hellem. This is remarkably higher than the about 70% identity observed between rrs of microsporidian species which belong to different genera and thus suggests that S. intestinalis should be regarded as a species of the genus Encephalitozoon. Western blots revealed a marked cross-reactivity between S. intestinalis and both species of Encephalitozoon which also stresses the close relationship between these organisms. It is concluded that S. intestinalis is so closely related to E. cuniculi, the type species of Encephalitozoon, that it should be reclassified as Encephalitozoon intestinalis.