© 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is characterized by flares of inflammation with a periodic need for increased medication and sometimes even surgery. The aetiology of IBD is partly attributed to a deregulated immune response to gut microbiome dysbiosis. Cross-sectional studies have revealed microbial signatures for different IBD subtypes, including ulcerative colitis, colonic Crohn's disease and ileal Crohn's disease. Although IBD is dynamic, microbiome studies have primarily focused on single time points or a few individuals. Here, we dissect the long-term dynamic behaviour of the gut microbiome in IBD and differentiate this from normal variation. Microbiomes of IBD subjects fluctuate more than those of healthy individuals, based on deviation from a newly defined healthy plane (HP). Ileal Crohn's disease subjects deviated most from the HP, especially subjects with surgical resection. Intriguingly, the microbiomes of some IBD subjects periodically visited the HP then deviated away from it. Inflammation was not directly correlated with distance to the healthy plane, but there was some correlation between observed dramatic fluctuations in the gut microbiome and intensified medication due to a flare of the disease. These results will help guide therapies that will redirect the gut microbiome towards a healthy state and maintain remission in IBD.