In this study, we investigated the distribution of Legionella species in water cooling towers located in different parts of Malaysia to obtain information that may inform public health policies for the prevention of legionellosis. A total of 20 water samples were collected from 11 cooling towers located in three different states in east, west and south Malaysia. The samples were concentrated by filtration and treated with an acid buffer before plating on to BCYE agar. Legionella viable counts in these samples ranged from 100 to 2,000 CFU ml−1; 28 isolates from the 24 samples were examined by latex agglutination as well as 16S rRNA and rpoB PCR-DNA sequencing. These isolates were identified as Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1 (35.7%), L. pneumophila serogroup 2–14 (39%), L. pneumophila non-groupable (10.7%), L. busanensis, L. gormanii, L. anisa and L. gresilensis.L. pneumophila was clearly the predominant species at all sampling sites. Repeat sampling from the same cooling tower and testing different colonies from the same water sample showed concurrent colonization by different serogroups and different species of Legionella in some of the cooling towers.