Lipid extracts from five recent Dead Sea sediments were analyzed for isoprenoid compounds and the following were isolated: free and phospholipid-bound di-O-phytanylglycerol, free phytanol and free and esterifled phytanic acid. The phytanyl groups of the diether and the free phytanol were oxidized to the corresponding phytanic acid; the stereoisomeric composition of the derived phytanic acids as well as of the ester-bound phytanic acid was determined by open-tubular gas-liquid chromatography of the corresponding methyl esters on butanediolsuccinate polyester. Only the 3R,7R,11R-isomer of phytanic acid was detected in each of the phytanate samples, indicating that these phytanyl chains in the Dead Sea sediments are most likely derived from extremely halophilic bacteria rather than from phytol of chlorophyll origin. These findings also provide further evidence that the mixtures of RRR and SRR-phytanic acids previously isolated from organic-rich shales were most likely derived from the phytyl chain in chlorophyll. ?? 1977.