Background: The genus Lactobacillus is characterized by an extraordinary degree of phenotypic and genotypic diversity, which recent genomic analyses have further highlighted. However, the choice of species for sequencing has been non-random and unequal in distribution, with only a single representative genome from the L. salivarius clade available to date. Furthermore, there is no data to facilitate a functional genomic analysis of motility in the lactobacilli, a trait that is restricted to the L. salivarius clade.Results: The 2.06 Mb genome of the bovine isolate Lactobacillus ruminis ATCC 27782 comprises a single circular chromosome, and has a G+C content of 44.4%. In silico analysis identified 1901 coding sequences, including genes for a pediocin-like bacteriocin, a single large exopolysaccharide-related cluster, two sortase enzymes, two CRISPR loci and numerous IS elements and pseudogenes. A cluster of genes related to a putative pilin was identified, and shown to be transcribed in vitro. A high quality draft assembly of the genome of a second L. ruminis strain, ATCC 25644 isolated from humans, suggested a slightly larger genome of 2.138 Mb, that exhibited a high degree of synteny with the ATCC 27782 genome. In contrast, comparative analysis of L. ruminis and L. salivarius identified a lack of long-range synteny between these closely related species. Comparison of the L. salivarius clade core proteins with those of nine other Lactobacillus species distributed across 4 major phylogenetic groups identified the set of shared proteins, and proteins unique to each group.Conclusions: The genome of L. ruminis provides a comparative tool for directing functional analyses of other members of the L. salivarius clade, and it increases understanding of the divergence of this distinct Lactobacillus lineage from other commensal lactobacilli. The genome sequence provides a definitive resource to facilitate investigation of the genetics, biochemistry and host interactions of these motile intestinal lactobacilli.