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Very little is known about the occurrence of Clostridium perfringens and of diseases caused by this anaerobic bacterium in marine mammals, especially those that are free-living. During a scientific expedition to the Greenland Sea (West Ice) in spring 1999, faeces samples from 70 hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) were taken to isolate C. perfiringens. Subsequently, PCR analysis of the isolates was performed with oligonucleotide primers of the genes encoding the four major lethal toxins (alpha, beta, epsilon and iota) for classification of toxin type and of the genes encoding C. perfringens beta2-toxin and enterotoxin for further subclassification. In addition, a commercial ELISA kit for detection of C. perfringens alpha, beta- and epsilon-toxin was used. C. perfingens was isolated in samples from 38 (54.3%) hooded seals. All isolates were C. perfringens toxin type A (alpha-toxin positive). This is the first report on the occurrence of C. perfringens in this arctic marine mammal species. Myositis and enterotoxemia caused by C. perfrigens were described in other marine mammals and it may be assumed that the pathogenesis of an outbreak of disease is similar to that encountered in terrestrial animals. Although there is some controversy surrounding the enteropathogenicity and virulence of alpha-toxin (concerning enterotoxemia), this study suggests that a possible outbreak of enterotoxemia caused by C. perfringens type A in hooded seals may, however, not be excluded.