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Although there are a number of comprehensive books in clinical micro biology, there remains a need for a manual that can be used in the clinical laboratory to guide the daily performance of its work. Most of the existing publications provide detailed and precise information, for example, by which a microorganism can be characterized and identified beyond any doubt; however, the number of tests involved in this process exceeds the capabilities and resources of most clinical laboratories and are irrele vant for patient care. It is, therefore, necessary in any clinical laboratory to extract from reference manuals, textbooks, and journals those tests and procedures that are to be used to complete the daily workload as efficiently and accurately as possible. It is also essential in the clinical laboratory to determine, on the basis of the kind of specimen being exam ined, which microorganisms are clinically relevant and require isolation and identification and which should either be excluded selectively or simply regarded as indigenous flora and, therefore, not specifically identi fied. Cost and time limit a laboratory's resources, and priorities must be established for handling the workload. The procedures described in the second edition of this manual are those selected by our staff for use in the clinical laboratory on the basis of clinic~l relevance, accuracy, reproducibility, and efficiency. Alternative procedures, when considered equivalent on the basis of personal or pub lished experience, have been included where appropriate.