It is important that attempts to understand bacterial phylogeny take into account fundamental bacterial characteristics such as cell envelope composition and organization. Several prominent phylogenetic studies have assumed that the cell envelopes of members of the phylum Chloroflexi are ‘Gram-negative’ (diderm, i.e. defined by both an inner plasma membrane and an outer membrane) and some of these studies have placed the branch leading to the extant Chloroflexi near the root of the bacterial phylogenetic tree. This Correspondence summarizes the compelling evidence that the Chloroflexi are in fact monoderm, i.e. have only a single cellular membrane. The phylogenetic implications of this conclusion are discussed. The data reviewed also shed interesting light on the distribution of protein secretion systems in diderm bacteria.