A novel bacterium that infects laboratory rats was isolated from wild Rattus norvegicus rats in Japan. Transmission electron microscopy of the spleen tissue revealed small cocci surrounded by an inner membrane and a thin, rippled outer membrane in a membrane-bound inclusion within the cytoplasm of endothelial cells. Phylogenetic analysis of the 16S rRNA gene sequence of the bacterium found in R. norvegicus rats and Ixodes ovatus ticks in Japan revealed that the organism represents a novel clade in the family Anaplasmataceae, which includes the Schotti variant found in Ixodes ricinus ticks in the Netherlands and the Ehrlichia-like Rattus strain found in R. norvegicus rats from China. The novel clade was confirmed by phylogenetic analysis of groESL sequences found in R. norvegicus rats and Ixodes ovatus ticks in Japan. No serological cross-reactivity was detected between this bacterium and members of the genera Anaplasma, Ehrlichia or Neorickettsia in the family Anaplasmataceae. It is proposed that this new cluster of bacteria should be designated 'Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis'.