Total sulfur (S(TOT)), elemental sulfur (S??) and sulfur-isotope compositions (??34S) of marine animals were analyzed to determine whether these chemical characteristics could help distinguish animals with a sulfur-based, thiotrophic nutrition from animals whose nutrition is based on methanotrophy or on more normal consumption of phytoplankton-derived organic matter. The presence of S??was almost entirely confined to the symbiont-containing tissues of thiotrophs, but was sometimes undetectable in thiotrophic species where sulfide availability was probably low. When S??contents were subtracted, the remaining tissue-sulfur concentrations were similar for all nutritional groups. ??34S values were typically lower for thiotrophs than for other groups, although there was overlap in methanotroph and thiotroph values at some sites. Field evidence supported the existence of small to moderate (1 to 10???)34S fractionations in the uptake of sulfides and metabolism of thiosulfate. In general, a total sulfur content of >3% dry weight, the presence of elemental sulfur, and ??34S values less than + 5??? can be used to infer a thiotrophic mode of nutrition.