We characterized the bacterioplankton community and its seasonal dynamics in two neighbouring hypertrophic lakes by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis of short (193 bp) 16S ribosomal DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products obtained with primers specific for the domain Bacteria. Lake Blankaart is turbid and has a high phytoplankton biomass and episodic cyanobacterial blooms, whereas biomanipulated Lake Visvijver is characterized by clearwater conditions and the establishment of a dense charophyte vegetation. Both lakes were dominated by bacterial groups commonly found in freshwater habitats (e.g. ACK4 cluster of Actinomycetes; ACK stands for clones isolated from the Adirondack mountain lakes). Yet, cluster analysis and principal components analysis (PCA) revealed that taxon composition of the bacterioplankton community of the two lakes differs substantially and consistently throughout the season. During the study year (1998), the bacterioplankton community of both lakes showed a distinct seasonal pattern. Lake Blankaart showed a clear differentiation between winter, spring, summer and autumn. In Lake Visvijver, summer samples differed greatly from spring, autumn and winter samples. We hypothesize that the contrasting bacterioplankton in the two neighbouring shallow lakes is determined largely by the presence or absence of macrophytes.