Urine is the CDC-recommended specimen for STI testing. It was unknown if the bacterial communities (microbiomes) in urine reflected those in the distal male urethra. We compared microbiomes of 32 paired urine and urethral swab specimens obtained from adult men attending an STD clinic, by 16S rRNA PCR and deep pyrosequencing. Microbiomes of urine and swabs were remarkably similar, regardless of STI status of the subjects. Thus, urine can be used to characterize urethral microbiomes when swabs are undesirable, such as in population-based studies of the urethral microbiome or where multiple sampling of participants is required. © 2011 Dong et al.