DNA coding for the 16S rRNA of six strains of the obligate intracellular bacterium Coxiella burnetti was directly amplified from lysed host cells using the polymerase chain reaction. The amplification product was sequenced using a linear-PCR procedure and compared with other published 16S rRNA sequences. The results of this analysis confirm the position of C. burnetii in the gamma subgroup of the proteobacteria. The data show that all of the C. burnetii strains are highly related (> 99%) on the basis of 16S rRNA sequences although they had different geographic origins and phenotypic characteristics. The data support a phylogenetic homogeneity of the genus Coxiella with only one species which is C. burnetii.