In the present study the characterization and differentiation of mesophilic and thermophilic bacteria were investigated by using Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy. Our results showed significant differences between the FT-IR spectra of mesophilic and thermophilic bacteria. The protein-to-lipid ratio was significantly higher for thermophiles compared to mesophiles. The absorption intensity of the CH3 asymmetric stretching vibration was higher in thermophilic bacteria, indicating a change in the composition of the acyl chains. The higher intensity/area observed in the CH2 symmetric stretching mode at 2857 cm(-1), and the CH2 bending vibration band at 1452 cm(-1), indicated a higher amount of saturated lipids in thermophilic bacteria. The lipid C=O stretching vibration at 1739 cm(-1), which was observed in the mesophilic group, was not observed clearly in the thermophilic group, indicating a difference in packing that is presumably due to the decreased proportion of unsaturated acyl chains in thermophilic bacteria. In addition, the carbonyl groups become hydrogen bonded and the cellular DNA content was lower in thermophilic bacteria. Moreover, in the 1000-400 cm(-1) frequency region, the spectra of each bacterial species belonging to both the mesophilic and thermophilic bacterial groups, showed characteristic differences that were discriminated via dendrogram using cluster analysis. The curent study implies that FT-IR spectroscopy could be succesfuly applied for the rapid comparison of bacterial groups and species to establish either similarities or discrepencies, as well as to confirm biochemical or physiological characteristics.