Black-pigmented Gram-negative anaerobes have been associated with periodontal disease and tooth loss since they were first isolated by Burdon in 1928. Porphyromonas gingivalis, which is usually not isolated from children, adolescents or adults with no periodontal breakdown, has been recognized as one of the most important periodontopathogens. Its presence is strongly correlated with deep periodontal pockets, which are assumed to be its main habitat. Correlations have been shown also with attachment loss, clinical inflammation and serum antibody levels, indicating an aetiological role in the periodontal disease. Their pathogenicity in animal models resembling periodontal disease is documented. They are frequently isolated from periodontal abscesses. The relationship between Prevotella intermedia and periodontal disease is not clear. It is frequently isolated from advanced periodontitis, often as the only black-pigmented Gram-negative anaerobic species; however, the prevalence in adults with no periodontal breakdown is high. It is found frequently in periodontal abscesses and in acute necrotizing and ulcerative gingivitis. Serogroup I is found predominantly in deep periodontal pockets, whereas all serogroups (I-III) are found in shallow pockets and gingivitis. No conclusive difference in pathogenicity between serogroups has been found. Pr. melaninogenica, Pr. denticola and Pr. loescheii are frequently found in the gingival crevice in preschool children and other age groups with gingivitis, but are seldom found in deep periodontal pockets.