Treponema denticola, frequently isolated from the human oral cavity, is thought to be a major pathogen of human periodontal disease. Recent developments in molecular analysis have clarified the surface structure of this microorganism and the characteristics of its pathogenic factors. Structural analysis of the outer sheath showed T. denticola to have a new type of outer membrane lipid. Limited exposure of the major outer sheath protein is suggested by electron-microscopic analysis. A protease-deficient mutant has revealed the roles of the protease in the organization of the outer sheath material and in T. denticola pathogenicity. The surface features that contribute to the pathogenicity of T. denticola in periodontal disease are gradually being elucidated, and are reviewed.