The Human Microbiome Project will establish a reference data set for analysis of the microbiome of healthy adults by surveying multiple body sites from 300 people and generating data from over 12,000 samples. To characterize these samples, the participating sequencing centers evaluated and adopted 16S rDNA community profiling protocols for ABI 3730 and 454 FLX Titanium sequencing. In the course of establishing protocols, we examined the performance and error characteristics of each technology, and the relationship of sequence error to the utility of 16S rDNA regions for classification- and OTU-based analysis of community structure. The data production protocols used for this work are those used by the participating centers to produce 16S rDNA sequence for the Human Microbiome Project. Thus, these results can be informative for interpreting the large body of clinical 16S rDNA data produced for this project.