The present study was conducted to identify and characterize the thermophilic bacteria isolated from various hot springs in Turkey by using phenotypic and genotypic methods including fatty acid methyl ester and rep-PCR profilings, and 16S rRNA sequencing. The data of fatty acid analysis showed the presence of 17 different fatty acids in 15 bacterial strains examined in this study. Six fatty acids, 15:0 iso, 15:0 anteiso, 16:0, 16:0 iso, 17:0 iso, and 17:0 anteiso, were present in all strains. The bacterial strains were classified into three phenotypic groups based on fatty acid profiles which were confirmed by genotypic methods such as 16S rRNA sequence analysis and rep-PCR genomic fingerprint profiles. After evaluating several primer sets targeting the repetitive DNA elements of REP, ERIC, BOX and (GTG)(5), the (GTG)(5) and BOXA1R primers were found to be the most reliable technique for identification and taxonomic characterization of thermophilic bacteria in the genera of Geobacillus, Anoxybacillus and Bacillus spp. Therefore, rep-PCR fingerprinting using the (GTG)5 and BOXA1R primers can be considered as a promising genotypic tool for the identification and characterization of thermophilic bacteria from species to strain level. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.