In this study, the biodiversity of thermophilous fungi in two different commercial composts was investigated using culture-based methods, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and tag-encoded pyrosequencing. 454 pyrosequencing of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region recovered a total of 175 OTUs between the two composts. The Ascomycota was the dominant phylum in both composts (90% of all sequences recovered) with the thermophilic-rich orders Sordariales and Eurotiales being the most numerous. Molecular studies demonstrated the frequent presence of several thermophilic (Scytalidium thermophilum, Myriococcum thermophilum) and thermotolerant (Pseudallescheria boydii, Corynascus verrucosus and Coprinopsis sp.) fungi in the composts, despite the absence of these species from the culture-based analysis. Conversely, Aspergillus fumigatus and Mycocladus corymbifer, which were the dominant species in cultivation analyses, had very low representation in molecular studies. The results show that the previous picture of the dominant thermophilous fungi in compost communities derived from culture-based analysis has been biased, and that composting environments represent a potentially rich resource of novel fungi. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd and The British Mycological Society.