Abstract Twenty-four strains of presumptive Moraxella and Branhamella spp. isolated from healthy small ruminant nasal swabs and nine collection strains of the two above genera were compared by means of physiological, enzyme hydrolysing procedures and experimental infectivity tests. Four physiological groups were established. One new biovar of Moraxella, intermediate between Moraxella bovis and Moraxella lacunata was identified from goat nasal isolates. Corneal swabbing and instillation in mice of such Moraxella strain gave a mild transitory photophobia as did the collection strain CIP 7039 Moraxella bovis used in this study. Taxonomic studies are warranted to determine whether it is a new Moraxella species or a Moraxella bovis subspecies.