Phylogenetic and antigenic studies were performed on 48 human oral Fusobacterium strains from Chinese patients with either necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (NUG) or gingivitis and on 23 Fusobacterium nucleatum or Fusobacterium periodonticum strains from European periodontitis patients. Alignment of partial 16S rRNA gene sequences resulted in a phylogenetic tree that corresponded well with the current classification of oral fusobacteria into F. periodonticum and several subspecies of F. nucleatum, in spite of much minor genetic variability. F. periodonticum, F. nucleatum subsp. animalis and a previously undescribed phylogenetic cluster (C4), that may represent an additional F. nucleatum subspecies, constituted discrete clusters distinct from the remainder of F. nucleatum with high bootstrap values. Chinese and European strains differed markedly with regard to their respective classification patterns, suggesting a predominance of F. peridonticum and F. nucleatum susp. animalis over F. nucleatum subsp. nucleatum and F. nucleatum subsp. fusiforme/vincentii in samples from China. Antigenic typing enabled the association of many previously described serovars with distinct phylogenetic clusters and when applied directly to uncultured clinical samples confirmed the differential distribution of oral Fusobacterium taxa in Chinese and European samples. Bacteria from cluster C4 and F. nucleatum subsp. animalis were significantly more prevalent and accounted for higher cell numbers in NUG than in gingivitis samples, suggesting a possible association of these rarely observed taxa with NUG in Chinese patients.