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Fluorescent-dye-conjugated oligonucleotides were used to classify 14 Fibrobacter strains by fluorescence microscopy. On the basis of partial 16S rRNA sequences of six Fibrobacter strains, four hybridization probes were designed to discriminate between the species Fibrobacter succinogenes and Fibrobacter intestinalis and to identify F. succinogenes subsp. succinogenes. After in situ hybridization to whole cells of the six sequenced strains, epifluorescence microscopy confirmed probe specificity. The four probes were then used to make presumptive species and subspecies assignments of eight additional Fibrobacter strains not previously characterized by comparative sequencing. These assignments were confirmed by comparative sequencing of the 16S rRNA target regions from the additional organisms. Single-mismatch discrimination between certain probe and nontarget sequences was demonstrated, and fluorescent intensity was shown to be enhanced by hybridization to multiple probes of the same specificity. The direct detection of F. intestinalis in mouse cecum samples demonstrated the application of this technique to the characterization of complex natural samples.