To determine the structure of human faecal microbiota, faecal samples from 23 healthy individuals were analysed with a similar set of probes targeting six phylogenetic groups using rRNA dot-blot hybridisation and whole cell fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH) combined with flow cytometry. When microbiota compositions derived by each method were compared, the results were not statistically different for Clostridium coccoides, Fusobacterium prausnitzii, Bifidobacterium spp. and Enterobacteria. Conversely, the proportions were significantly different for Bacteroides and Atopobium (P<0.05). The metabolic state of these bacteria within the colon could explain the discrepancy observed between the rRNA level and the actual cell proportion. However, both approaches supplied consistent and complementary information on the structure of the faecal microbiota. FISH combined with flow cytometry appears best suited to future high throughput analysis.