Nonculturable segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB) have been described in the gut of rats, mice and chickens, and 16S rRNA sequences for these organisms are available. These organisms, peripherically related to Clostridium phylogenetic group I, have been provisionally named 'Candidatus Arthromitus'. This work reports the observation of similar bacteria in the intestinal content of the distal intestine, preferentially, in the adult rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) that exhibited episodic acute diarrhea, usually during the summer. Abdominal distension, intestinal fluid-mucus content and epithelium detachment were observed in trout. The demonstration that the observed microorganisms are bacteria and belong in the 'Candidatus Arthromitus' group was achieved by in situ hybridization with, respectively, a eubacterial probe and an oligonucleotide probe designed to react specifically with SFB 16S rRNA (encoded by the rrs gene) sequences. The sequenced rrs gene was compared with published sequences and found to be closely related to (although distinct from) other SFB sequences. Implication of these bacteria in trout diarrheic illness remains hypothetical.