The bacterioneuston is the community of Bacteria present in surface microlayers, the thin surface film that forms the interface between aquatic environments and the atmosphere. In this study we compared bacterial cell abundances and bacterial community structures of the bacterioneuston and the bacterioplankton (from the subsurface water column) during a phytoplankton bloom mesocosm experiment. Bacterial cell abundance, determined by flow cytometry, followed a typical bacterioplankton response to a phytoplankton bloom, with Synechococcus and high-nucleic acid content (HNA) bacterial cell numbers initially falling, probably due to selective protist grazing. Subsequently HNA and low-nucleic acid content bacterial cells increased in abundance, but Synechococcus cells did not. There was no significant difference between bacterioneuston and bacterioplankton cell abundances during the experiment. Conversely, distinct and consistent differences between the bacterioneuston and the bacterioplankton community structures were observed. This was monitored simultaneously by Bacteria 16S rRNA gene terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. The conserved patterns of community structure observed in all of the mesocosms indicate that the bacterioneuston is distinctive and nonrandom.