SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis is a useful technique in bacterial differentiation and identification. A rapid, semi-automated SDS-PAGE system (Phast System) was assessed for identification of formate-fumarate-requiring, asaccharolytic, Gram-negative oral anaerobes. The system permitted loading, separation and staining of gels within 2 h. Percentage similarities between strains were determined using correlation coefficients and cluster analysis. The protein profiles were sufficiently reproducible provided that distorted profiles were disregarded. Strains were successfully separated into their species, with the exception of Bacteroides ureolyticus NCTC 10939, which appeared to be distinct from other strains of that species. Twenty-nine unidentified formate-fumarate-requiring, sub-gingival plaque strains were suitably clustered with the standard strains as verified by a series of physiological and biochemical tests.