This study aimed to investigate the distribution of Malassezia species yeasts on the skin of healthy horses. Acetate tape samples were obtained from the lip, axilla, interbulbar region, groin and anus of 12 healthy horses. The samples were stained and examined microscopically and sites harbouring yeast-like organisms were identified. Contact plates were applied to the skin at these sites and cultured at 26°C and 32°C. No growth was obtained on horse blood, Sabouraud's dextrose or modified Dixon's agar. A pure growth of a Malassezia-type organism was obtained on Sabouraud's dextrose agar enriched with oleic acid when it was incubated at 30°C. It was identified by 26S ribosomal DNA D1/D2 sequence analysis as a member of the genus Malassezia, and most closely related to Malassezia sympodialis. However, the level of sequence divergence indicated that it was a novel species.