Three methanogen 16S rRNA gene clone libraries were constructed from liquid (LM), solid (SM) and epithelium (EM) fractions taken from the rumen of Jinnan cattle in China. After the amplification by PCR using methanogen-specific primers Met86F and Met1340R, equal quantities of PCR products from the same fractions from each of the four cattle were mixed together and used to construct the three libraries. Sequence analysis showed that the 268 LM clones were divided into 35 phylotypes with 18 sequences of phylotypes affiliated with the genus Methanobrevibacter (84.3% of clones). The 135 SM clones were divided into 19 phylotypes with 11 phylotypes affiliated with the genus Methanobrevibacter (77.8%). The 267 EM clones were divided into 33 phylotypes with 15 phylotypes affiliated with the genus Methanobrevibacter (77.2%). Clones closely related to Methanomicrobium mobile and Methanobrevibacter wolinii were only found in the LM library, and those to Methanobrevibacter ruminantium and Methanobrevibacter gottschalkii only in the SM library. LM library comprised 12.4% unidentified euryarchaeal clones, SM library 23.7% and EM library 25.5%, respectively. Five phylotypes (accession number: EF055528 and EF055531–EF055534) did not belong to the Euryarchaeota sequences we had known. One possible new genus (represented by phylotype E17, accession number EF055528) belonging to Methanobacteriaceae was identified from EM library. Quantitative real-time PCR for the first time revealed that epithelium fraction had significantly higher density of methanogens, with methanogenic mcrA gene copies (9.95 log 10 (copies per gram of wet weight)) than solid (9.26, P < 0.01) and the liquid (8.44, P < 0.001). The three clone libraries also appeared different in Shannon index (EM library 2.12, LM library 2.05 and SM library 1.73). Our results showed that there were apparent differences in the methanogenic diversity and abundance in the three different fractions within the rumen of Jinnan cattle, with Methanobrevibacter species predominant in all the three libraries and with epithelium fraction having more unknown species and higher density of methanogens.