The ability of the marine microorganism Desulfuromonas acetoxidans to reduce Fe(III) was investigated because of its close phylogenetic relationship with the freshwater dissimilatory Fe(III) reducer Geobacter metallireducens. Washed cell suspensions of the type strain of D. acetoxidans reduced soluble Fe(III)-citrate and Fe(III) complexed with nitriloacetic acid. The c-type cytochrome(s) of D. acetoxidans was oxidized by Fe(III)- citrate and Mn(IV)-oxalate, as well as by two electron acceptors known to support growth, colloidal sulfur and malate. D. acetoxidans grew in defined anoxic, bicarbonate-buffered medium with acetate as the sole electron donor and poorly crystalline Fe(III) or Mn(IV) as the sole electron acceptor. Magnetite (Fe3O4) and siderite (FeCO3) were the major end products of Fe(III) reduction, whereas rhodochrosite (MnCO3) was the end product of Mn(IV) reduction. Ethanol, propanol, pyruvate, and butanol also served as electron donors for Fe(III) reduction. In contrast to D. acetoxidans, G. metallireducens could only grow in freshwater medium and it did not conserve energy to support growth from colloidal S0 reduction. D. acetoxidans is the first marine microorganism shown to conserve energy to support growth by coupling the complete oxidation of organic compounds to the reduction of Fe(III) or Mn(IV). Thus, D. acetoxidans provides a model enzymatic mechanism for Fe(III) or Mn(IV) oxidation of organic compounds in marine and estuarine sediments. These findings demonstrate that 16S rRNA phylogenetic analyses can suggest previously unrecognized metabolic capabilities of microorganisms.