PURPOSE: Heal pouch-anal anastomosis remains the ``gold standards in surgical treatment of ulcerative cotitis and familial adenomatous polyposis. Pouchitis occurs mainly in patients with a background of ulcerative colitis, although the reasons for this are unknown. The aim of this study was to characterize differences in pouch bacterial populations between ulcerative colitis and familial adenomatous pouches. METHODS: After ethical approval was obtained, fresh stool samples were collected from patients with ulcerative colitis pouches (n=10), familial adenomatous polyposis (n=7) pouches, and ulcerative colitis ileostomies (n=8). Quantitative measurements of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria were performed. RESULTS: Sulfate-reducing bacteria were isolated from 80 percent (n=8) of ulcerative colitis pouches. Sulfate-reducing bacteria were absent from familial adenomatous polyposis pouches and also from ulcerative colitis ileostomy effluent. Pouch Lactobacilli, Bifidobacterium, Bacteroides sp, and Clostridium perfringens counts were increased relative to ileostomy Counts in patients with ulcerative colitis. Total Pouch enterococci and coliform counts were also increased relative to ileostomy levels. There were no significant quantitative or qualitative differences between pouch types when these. p bacteria were evaluated. CONCLUSIONS: Sulfate-reducing bacteria are exclusive to patients with a background of ulcerative colitis. Not all ulcerative colitis pouches harbor sulfate-reducing bacteria because two ulcerative colitis pouches in this study were free of the latter. They are not present in familial adenomatous polyposis pouches or in ileostomy effluent collected from patients with ulcerative colitis. Total bacterial counts increase in ulcerative colitis pouches after stoma closure. Levels of Lactobacilli, Bifidobacterium, Bacteroides sp, Clostridium perfringens, enterococci, and coliforms were similar in both pouch groups. Because sulfate-reducing bacteria are specific to ulcerative colitis pouches, they may play a role in the pathogenesis of pouchitis.