The clinical manifestation of necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (NUG) is distinct from that of common gingivitis in that it is characterized by local necrosis of the gingival tissues, rapid onset, pain and extensive bleeding. The phylum Synergistetes is a novel bacterial phylum consisting of Gram-negative anaerobes, with evidence of presence in biofilms associated with periodontal and endodontic infections. To date, the involvement of members of this phylum in NUG has not been investigated. This study aimed to evaluate the presence and levels of known human oral Synergistetes bacterial clusters in dental plaque from patients with NUG and compare them with those found in gingivitis. Marginal dental plaque samples from 21 NUG and 21 gingivitis patients were analysed quantitatively by fluorescent in situ hybridization and microscopy for members of two oral Synergistetes clusters (A and B) and for Jonquetella anthropi. Synergistetes cluster A bacteria were detected in all samples but at higher levels (9.4-fold) and proportions (2.5-fold) in NUG patients than in gingivitis patients. However, with regard to Synergistetes cluster B bacteria, there were no differences between NUG and gingivitis patients. J. anthropi was detected in only half of the samples and at lower levels than the other taxa. In conclusion, these data demonstrate that Synergistetes cluster A bacteria, but not cluster B bacteria or J. anthropi, are more strongly associated with NUG than with gingivitis.