The bacteria involved in the biodegradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in deep sea subsurface environments are largely unknown. In order to reveal their biodiversity, sediments from 2.2 m under the bottom surface at a water depth of 3542 m were sampled on the Middle Atlantic Ridge with a gravity column sampler. The sediments were promptly enriched with either crude oil or a mixture of PAHs (naphthalene, phenanthrene and pyrene) as the sole carbon source, and further enriched with the PAH mixture mentioned above in the lab. The resulting consortia were named C2CO and C2PPN respectively. Their bacterial composition was analysed with plate cultivation, PCR-DGGE and 16S rDNA library analysis. On plates, isolates belonging to Pseudoalteromonas, Halomonas, Marinobacter, Thalassospira and Tistrella dominated the culturable populations. With PCR-DGGE, five major bands closely related to Cycloclasticus, Alteromonas, Thalassospira, Alcanivorax and Rhodospirillaceae were detected in consortium C2CO, while only one major band of Cycloclasticus was detected in consortium C2PPN. In addition, the dynamics of community structure in response to aromatic substrate alterations were examined. As a result, three ribotypes of Cycloclasticus were detected by 16S rDNA library analysis, one which played a key role in phenanthrene degradation; two Alteromonas bacteria dominated the naphthalene reselected consortium. Although bacteria of the two genera grew as the main members of the communities, none of them were isolated, probably owing to their poor cultivability. These results confirm that bacteria of Cycloclasticus are important obligate PAH degraders in marine environments, and coexist with other degrading bacteria that inhabit the deep subsurface sediment of the Atlantic. This supports the view that PAH accumulation and bioattenuation occur in remote areas consistently and continuously.