Optimization of the fatty acid composition of ruminant milk and meat is desirable. Dietary supplementation of algae was previously shown to inhibit rumen biohydrogenation, resulting in an altered milk fatty acid profile. Bacteria involved in biohydrogenation belong to the Butyrivibrio group. This study was aimed at relating accumulation of biohydrogenation intermediates with shifts in Butyrivibrio spp. in the rumen of dairy cows. Therefore, an experiment was performed with three rumen-fistulated dairy cows receiving a concentrate containing algae (9.35 g/kg total dry matter [DM] intake) for 20 days. Supplementation of the diet with algae inhibited biohydrogenation of C(18:2) omega 6 (n-6) and C(18:3) n-3, resulting in increased concentrations of biohydrogenation intermediates, whereas C(18:0) decreased. Addition of algae increased ruminal C(18:1) trans fatty acid concentrations, mainly due to 6- and 20-fold increases in C(18:1) trans 11 (t11) and C(18:1) t10. The number of ciliates (5.37 log copies/g rumen digesta) and the composition of the ciliate community were unaffected by dietary algae. In contrast, supplementation of the diet with algae changed the composition of the bacterial community. Primers for the Butyrivibrio group, including the genera Butyrivibrio and Pseudobutyrivibrio, were specifically designed. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis showed community changes upon addition of algae without affecting the total amount of Butyrivibrio bacteria (7.06 log copies/g rumen DM). Clone libraries showed that algae affected noncultivated species, which cluster taxonomically between the genera Butyrivibrio and Pseudobutyrivibrio and might play a role in biohydrogenation. In addition, 20% of the clones from a randomly selected rumen sample were related to the C(18:0)-producing branch, although the associated C(18:0) concentration decreased through supplementation of the diet with algae.