Determining the clinical relevance of coagulase-negative staphylococci isolated from cultures of clinical specimens remains a common dilemma. One hundred eighteen strains of coagulase-negative staphylococci isolated from patients with and without indwelling foreign bodies were characterized with regard to cell-surface hydrophobicity, slime production, and species to determine the predictive value of these phenotypic markers in distinguishing clinically significant from insignificant isolates. The single test with the highest positive predictive value was hydrophobicity (79%). Hydrophobicity and speciation had the greatest combined predictive value of any two tests (89%), and this increased to only 90% when determination of slime production was added. These tests provide additional clinical information when coagulase-negative staphylococci are isolated in culture.