Background: Reduced intestinal microbial diversity and bacterial imbalance (dysbiosis) are seen in studies of Crohn's disease. As it is difficult to obtain biopsy samples before disease presentation, the earliest mucosal lesions in Crohn's disease, aphthous ulcers, present the best chance at assessing microbial communities at the onset of disease or a new flare. The aim of our study was to compare the microbial communities of aphthous ulcers and adjacent normal mucosa from patients with Crohn's disease with normal mucosa from controls. Results: We did not observe bacterial imbalance or reduced alpha diversity in Crohn's disease aphthous ulcers and adjacent mucosa, relative to control biopsies. Bacteroides were common to all Crohn's disease and control samples, and there were no bacterial taxa unique to aphthous ulcers. The relative abundance of Faecalibacterium was not reduced in aphthous ulcers relative to control mucosa, and was not more likely to be detected in control samples. Conclusions: In contrast to well-documented changes seen in late-stage Crohn's disease, microbial communities of aphthous ulcers do not display evidence of bacterial imbalance or reduced diversity. Our data suggest that dysbiosis occurs during active disease, and improves when patients are in remission.