As a result of the recent application of DNA based technology to the investigation of maritime Antarctic freshwater lakes, patterns have begun to emerge in the bacterioplankton communities that dominate these systems. In this study, the bacterioplankton communities of five Antarctic and five Arctic freshwater lakes were assessed and compared with existing data in the literature, to determine whether emerging patterns in Antarctic lakes also applied to Arctic systems. Such a bipolar comparison is particularly timely, given the current interest in biogeography, the global distribution of microorganisms and the controversy over the global ubiquity hypothesis. In addition, it has recently been discovered that commonly encountered bacterial sequences, often originating from uncultivated bacteria obtained on different continents, form coherent phylogenetic freshwater clusters. In this study we encountered both identical sequences and sequences with a high degree of similarity among the bacterioplankton in lake water from both poles. In addition, Arctic freshwater lakes appeared to be dominated by some of the same groups of bacterioplankton thought to be dominant in Antarctic lakes, the vast majority of which represented uncultivated groups.