We present the results of a spectroscopic study of 37 southern ( candidate) gamma Doradus stars based on echelle spectra. The observed spectra were cross-correlated with the standard template spectrum of an F0-type star for easier detection of binary and intrinsic variations. We identified 15 objects as spectroscopic binaries, including 7 new ones, while another 3 objects are binary suspects. At least 12 objects show composite spectra. We could determine the orbital parameters for 9 binaries, of which 4 turned out to be ellipsoidal variables. For 6 binaries, we estimated the expected time-base of the orbital variations. Clear profile variations were observed for 17 objects, pointing towards stellar pulsation. For 8 of them, we have evidence that the main spectroscopic and photometric periods coincide. Our results, in combination with prior knowledge from the literature, lead to the classification of 10 objects as new bona fide gamma Doradus stars, 1 object as a new bona fide delta Scuti star, and 8 objects as constant stars. Finally, we determined the projected rotational velocity by two independent methods. The resulting v sin i values range from 3 to 135 km s(-1). For the bona fide. Doradus stars, the majority has v sin i below 60 km s(-1).