Daqu, a traditional fermentation starter, has been used to produce attractively flavored foods such as vinegar and Chinese liquor for thousands of years. Although Bacillus spp. are one of the dominant microorganisms in Daqu, more precise information is needed to reveal why and how Bacillus became dominant in Daqu, and next, to assess the impact of Bacillus sp. on Daqu and its derived products. We combined culture-dependent and culture-independent methods to study the ecology of Bacillus during Daqu incubation. Throughout the incubation, 67 presumptive Bacillus spp. isolates were obtained, 52 of which were confirmed by 16S rDNA sequencing. The identified organisms belonged to 8 Bacillus species: B. licheniformis, B. subtilis, B. amyloliquefaciens, B. cereus, B. circulans, B. megaterium, B. pumilus, and B. anthracis. A primer set specific for Bacillus and related genera was used in a selective PCR study, followed by a nested DGGE PCR targeting the V9 region of the 16S rDNA. Species identified from the PCR-DGGE fingerprints were related to B. licheniformis, B. subtilis, B. amyloliquefaciens, B. pumilus, B. benzoevorans, and B. foraminis. The predominant species was found to be B. licheniformis. Certain B. licheniformis strains exhibited potent antimicrobial activities. The greatest species diversity occurred at the Liangmei stage of Daqu incubation. To date, we lack sufficient knowledge of Bacillus distribution in Daqu. Elucidating the ecology of Bacillus during Daqu incubation would enable the impact of Bacillus on Daqu to be accessed, and the quality and stabilization of Daqu-derived products to be optimized.