Premature birth (PTB) is a major global public health burden. Previous studies have suggested an association between altered vaginal microbiota composition and PTB, although findings across studies have been inconsistent. To address these inconsistencies, improve upon our previous signature, and better understand the vaginal microbiota’s role in PTB, we conducted a case-control study in two cohorts of pregnant women: one predominantly Caucasian at low risk of PTB, the second predominantly African American at high risk. With the results, we were able to replicate our signature in the first cohort and refine our signature of PTB for both cohorts. Our findings elucidate the ecology of the vaginal microbiota and advance our ability to predict and understand the causes of PTB.