The phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity of the basidiomycetous yeast species Rhodotorula glutinis was investigated in a group of 109 isolates. A polyphasic taxonomic approach was followed which included PCR fingerprinting, determination of sexual compatibility, 26S and ITS rDNA sequence analysis, DNA-DNA reassociation experiments and reassessment of micromorphological and physiological attributes. The relationships with species of the teleomorphic genus Rhodosporidium were studied and isolates previously identified as Rh. glutinis were found to belong to Rhodosporidium babjevae, Rhodosporidium diobovatum and Rhodosporidium sphaerocarpum. Other isolates included in the study were found to belong to Rh. glutinis var. dairenensis, which is elevated to the species level, or to undescribed species. The concept of Rh. glutinis sensu stricto is proposed due to the close phenetic and phylogenetic proximity detected for Rh. glutinis, Rhodotorula graminis and R. babjevae.