SUMMARY: Pyrolysis mass spectrometry (p.m.s.) was applied to differentiate 91 coded mycobacteria as belonging to either the “tuberculosis complex” ( and BCG) or to other species of . Strains were analysed in batches; in each batch three strains each of and BCG were included as references. Mass spectra were evaluated by computerized multivariate analysis. A 92% positive correlation with classical identification tests was found (2.2% false negative, 5.5% false positive). Approaches for further improvement of this score are indicated. High speed and complete automation of sample analysis, as well as computerized data-processing, make p.m.s. a potential tool for routine application. Sample transfer from peripheral laboratories to a p.m.s. facility is easy, as samples can be sterilized before shipping.


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