It has been postulated that bacteria attached to the surface of prosthetic hip joints can cause localised inflammation, resulting in failure of the replacement joint. However, diagnosis of infection is difficult with traditional microbiological culture methods, and evidence exists that highly fastidious or non-cultivable organisms have a role in implant infections. The purpose of this study was to use culture and culture-independent methods to detect the bacteria present on the surface of prosthetic hip joints removed during revision arthroplasties. Ten consecutive revisions were performed by two surgeons, which were all clinically and radiologically loose. Five of the hip replacement revision surgeries were performed because of clinical infections and five because of aseptic loosening. Preoperative and perioperative specimens were obtained from each patient and subjected to routine microbiological culture. The prostheses removed from each patient were subjected to mild ultrasonication to dislodge adherent bacteria, followed by aerobic and anaerobic microbiological culture. Bacterial DNA was extracted from each sonicate and the 16S rRNA gene was amplified with the universal primer pair 27f/1387r. All 10 specimens were positive for the presence of bacteria by both culture and PCR. PCR products were then cloned, organised into groups by RFLP analysis and one clone from each group was sequenced. Bacteria were identified by comparison of the 16S rRNA gene sequences obtained with those deposited in public access sequence databases. A total of 512 clones were analysed by RFLP analysis, of which 118 were sequenced. Culture methods identified species from the genera Leifsonia (54.3%), Staphylococcus (21.7%), Proteus (8.7%), Brevundimonas (6.5%), Salibacillus (4.3%), Methylobacterium (2.2%) and Zimmermannella (2.2%). Molecular detection methods identified a more diverse microflora. The predominant genus detected was Lysobacter, representing 312 (60.9%) of 512 clones analysed. In all, 28 phylotypes were identified: Lysobacter enzymogenes was the most abundant phylotype (31.4%), followed by Lysobacter sp. C3 (28.3%), gamma proteobacterium N4-7 (6.6%), Methylobacterium SM4 (4.7%) and Staphylococcus epidermidis (4.7%); 36 clones (7.0%) represented uncultivable phylotypes. We conclude that a diverse range of bacterial species are found within biofilms on the surface of clinically infected and non-infected prosthetic hip joints removed during revision arthroplasties.