Background Patients with cystic fibrosis [CF] have frequent pulmonary exacerbations associated with the isolation of bacterial organisms from sputum samples. It is not clear however, if there are differences in the types of additional organisms isolated from patients who are infected with Burkholderia cepacia complex [BCC] or Pseudomonas aerugionsa [PA] in comparison to those who are not infected with either of these organisms [NI]. Methods Adult patients attending the regional CF unit were followed over a two year period and patients were assigned to three groups depending on whether they were known to be chronically infected with BCC, PA or NI. We compared the numbers and types of organisms which were isolated in each of these groups. Results Information was available on a total of 79 patients; BCC 23, PA 30 and NI 26. Total numbers of organisms isolated, expressed as median and IQR for each group, [P = 0.045] and numbers of co-infecting organisms [P = 0.003] were significantly higher in the BCC group compared to PA, and in the PA group [P < 0.001, p = 0.007 respectively] compared to NI patients. The pattern of co-infecting organisms was similar in all three groups. Conclusions Total numbers of organisms isolated and numbers of co-infecting organisms were significantly higher in the BCC group compared to PA, and in the PA group compared to NI patients. Types of co-infecting organisms are similar in all groups of patients.