The bacterial community associated with skin lesions of the sea urchin Tripneustes gratilla was investigated using 16S ribosomal RNA gene cloning and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). All clones were classified in the Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria and Cytophaga-Flexibacter-Bacteroides (CFB) bacteria. Most of the Alphaproteobacteria were related to the Roseobacter lineage and to bacteria implicated in marine diseases. The majority of the Gammaproteobacteria were identified as Vibrio while CFB represented only 9% of the total clones. FISH analyses showed that Alphaproteobacteria, CFB bacteria and Gammaproteobacteria accounted respectively for 43%, 38% and 19% of the DAPI counts. The importance of the methods used is emphasized.