Organisms from the Burkholderia cepacia complex are important pathogens in cystic fibrosis and are associated with increased rates of sepsis and death. These organisms comprise nine closely related species known as genomovars. B. cenocepacia (genomovar III) is the most prevalent and appears the most virulent. We investigated the biological activity of a reference panel of strains using whole-cell lysates to induce septic-shock related cytokines from differentiated human monocytic cells. We found varying biological activity within and between genomovars, with B. cenocepacia strains possessing the greatest cytokine induction activity. This activity was CD-14 dependent, suggesting that LPS was responsible for the cytokine induction. Cytokine induction was not simply related to the expression of rough or smooth LPS. We purified LPS from two strains, B. cenocepacia LMG 12614 and B. multivorans LMG 14273, each possessing rough LPS. Divergence in biological activity of the two genomovars was preserved when human monocytic cells were stimulated with purified LPS. Lipid A purified from LMG 14273 and LMG 12614 were analyzed by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization/time of flight mass spectrometry. Lipid A from the less effective cytokine inducer LMG 14273 was found to be missing a β-hydroxymyristate (3-OH C14:0) relative to the lipid A of B. cenocepacia LMG 12614.