Cells of Geobacter metallireducens, Magnetospirillum strain AMB-1, Magnetospirillum magnetotacticum and Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense showed N2-dependent growth, the first anaerobically with Fe(lll) as the electron acceptor, and the latter three species micro-aerobically in semi-solid oxygen gradient cultures. Cells of the Magnetospirillum species grown with N2 under microaerobic conditions were magnetotactic and therefore produced magnetosomes. Cells of Geobacter metallireducens reduced acetylene to ethylene (11.5 ?? 5.9nmol C2H4 produced min-1 mg-1 cell protein) while growing with Fe(lll) as the electron acceptor in anaerobic growth medium lacking a fixed nitrogen source. Cells of the Magnetospirillum species, grown in a semi-solid oxygen gradient medium, also reduced acetylene at comparable rates. Uncut chromosomal and fragments from endonuclease-digested chromosomal DNA from these species, as well as Geobacter sulphurreducens organisms, hybridized with a nifHDK probe from Rhodospirillum rubrum, indicating the presence of these nitrogenase structural genes in these organisms. The evidence presented here shows that members of the metal-metabolizing genera, Geobacter and Magnetospirillum, fix atmospheric dinitrogen.