Endophytic bacteria are ubiquitous in most plants and colonise plants without exhibiting pathogenicity. Studies on the diversity of bacterial endophytes have been mainly approached by characterisation of isolates obtained from internal tissues. Despite the broad application of culture-independent techniques for the analysis of microbial communities in a wide range of natural habitats, little information is available on the species diversity of endophytes. In this study, microbial communities inhabiting stems, roots and tubers of three potato varieties were analysed by 16S rRNA-based techniques such as terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis as well as 16S rDNA cloning and sequencing. Two individual plant experiments were conducted. In the first experiment plants suffered from light deficiency, whereas healthy and robust plants were obtained in the second experiment. Plants obtained from both experiments showed comparable endophytic populations, but healthy potato plants possessed a significantly higher diversity of endophytes than stressed plants. In addition, plant tissue and variety specific endophytes were detected. Sequence analysis of 16S rRNA genes indicated that a broad phylogenetic spectrum of bacteria is able to colonise plants internally including α-, β-, and γ-Proteobacteria, high-GC Gram-positives, microbes belonging to the Flexibacter/Cytophaga/Bacteroides group and Planctomycetales. Group-specific analysis of Actinomycetes indicated a higher abundance and diversity of Streptomyces scabiei-related species in the variety Mehlige Mühlviertler, which is known for its resistance against potato common scab caused by S. scabiei.