The bacterial community structures of phosphate- and non-phosphate-removing activated sludges were compared. Sludge samples were obtained from two sequencing batch reactors (SBRs), and 16S rDNA clone libraries of the bacterial sludge populations were established. Community structures were determined by phylogenetic analyses of 97 and 92 partial clone sequences from SBR1 (phosphate-removing sludge) and SBR2 (non-phosphate-removing sludge), respectively. For both sludges, the predominant bacterial group with which clones were affiliated was the beta subclass of the proteobacteria. Other major groups represented were the alpha proteobacterial subclass, planctomycete group, and Flexibacter-Cytophaga-Bacteroides group. In addition, several clone groups unaffiliated with known bacterial assemblages were identified in the clone libraries. Acinetobacter spp., thought to be important in phosphate removal in activated sludge, were poorly represented by clone sequences in both libraries. Differences in community structure were observed between the phosphate- and non-phosphate-removing sludges; in particular, the Rhodocyclus group within the beta subclass was represented to a greater extent in the phosphate-removing community. Such differences may account for the differing phosphate-removing capabilities of the two activated sludge communities.