Bacterial community structure and diversity in the rumen of steers in conditions of hay and corn diets was assessed by in vitro retrieval and analysis of the variable region (V3) of 16S rDNA. Two types of libraries were generated in this study: DGGE libraries, which further were analysed by excising, reamplification, and sequencing, and random shotgun sequence libraries. Phylogenetic and sequence similarity analyses of the resultant 68 clone sequences in DGGE libraries revealed the presence of 42 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) or phylotypes defined as having more than 97% of sequence similarity. One hundred and thirty four clone sequences in shotgun libraries were clustered into 72 phylotypes. The phylotype similarity, diversity, richness, and evenness in these libraries were estimated using a variety of diversity indices. In relation to diet, the corn-fed animals displayed more diverse and rich bacterial populations, which were mostly contributed by CFB-related phylotypes. Proteobacteria were also numerically prevalent on this diet (27%) but were represented by a few phylotypes thus diminishing the overall diversity and species richness values. On hay diet, the principal contributors to general diversity and species richness appeared to be low-G + C gram-positives. Although the ruminal Treponemaes were encountered only in hay-fed animals, their impact on species diversity on hay diet was low because of the limited number of phylotypes.