The 16S rRNA gene sequences were determined for type strains of 21 Bifidobacterium species. A phylogenetic tree was constructed using the determined sequences and sequences from DNA databases, which contain the sequences of 11 type strains of Bifidobacterium species and 11 strains of related genera. All species of the genus Bifidobacterium and Gardnerella vaginalis ATCC 14018 belonged to a cluster phylogenetically distinct from the other genera. The cluster was divided into two subclusters: subcluster 1 composed of most species of Bifidobacterium and G. vaginalis, and subcluster 2 consisting of two species, B. denticolens and B. inopinatum; both of which were isolated from human dental caries. In the genus Bifidobacterium, four groups of species are known to be moderately to highly related by DNA-DNA hybridization. The four groups of species exhibited more than 99% similarity among their 16S rDNA sequences within each group. These results indicated that species with around 99% or more similarity in their 16S rDNA sequences should be confirmed for species identities.