The diversity of organisms present in the subgingival pockets of patients with periodontitis and acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG) were examined previously. The 16S rRNA genes of subgingival plaque bacteria were amplified using PCR with a universal forward primer and a spirochaete-selective reverse primer. The amplified DNA was cloned into Escherichia coli. In one subject with ANUG, 70 clones were sequenced. Seventy-five per cent of the clones were spirochaetal, as expected. Twelve of the remaining clones fell into two clusters that represent novel phylotypes in the family Coriobacteriaceae. The first novel phylotype was most closely related to Atopobium rimae (98% similarity). The phylotype probably represents a novel Atopobium species, but will not be named until cultivable strains are obtained. The second novel phylotype was only 91% similar to described Atopobium species and 84% similar to Coriobacterium glomerans. The 16S rRNA sequences of the type strain of Lactobacillus uli and a strain representing the Moores' Eubacterium group D52 were determined as part of on ongoing sequence analysis of oral bacteria. The sequence for L. uli was more than 99.8% similar to sequences for the second clone phylotype. It therefore appears that the second clone phylotype and L. uli represent the same species. The sequence for the Eubacterium D52 strain was 95.6% similar to that of L. uli. The G+C content of the DNA of L. uli and Eubacterium D52 is 63-64 mol %. These organisms are thus distinct from the neighbouring genus Atopobium, which has a DNA G+C content of 35-46 mol%. A new genus, Olsenella gen. nov., is proposed for these two species on the basis of phenotypic characteristics and 16S rRNA sequence analysis to include Olsenella uli comb. nov. and Olsenella profusa sp. nov.