Abstract Background One-tenth of all infectious diseases are attributable to emerging organisms. As emerging organisms sporadically affect a relatively small percentage of population they are not studied at large. This study was aimed at studying the characteristics of emerging organisms encountered from various clinical samples in an apex tertiary care multispeciality teaching and research hospital. Methods 16,918 positive isolates obtained from 66,323 culture samples processed in the clinical microbiology lab of an apex multispeciality hospital during 2011–2012 were included after a pilot study. Both manual and automated systems were used for identification and antimicrobial susceptibility. The frequency of isolation, sources, referring centers, resistance and susceptibility profiles, phenotypic characteristics and number of reports in PubMed were studied. Results Out of 16,918 isolates, 13,498 (79.78%) were Gram negative bacteria, 3254 (19.23%) were Gram positive bacteria and 166 (0.98%) were yeasts. A total of 483 (2.85%, 95% CI 2.6%–3.1%) emerging organisms including 116 (0.69%, 95% CI 0.57%–0.81%) emerging species were identified comprising 54 genera. Conclusion Emerging organisms are likely to evade routine identification or be disregarded as non-contributory. Astute efforts directed at identification of emerging isolates, decisions by clinical microbiologists and treating physicians and containment of infection are required.