By using (1)H- and (13)C-NMR spectroscopy, an accumulation of sucrose and two cyclic amino acids [ectoine (1,4,5, 6-tetrahydro-2-methyl-4-pyrimidine carboxylic acid) and 5-oxoproline (pyrrolidone carboxylic acid)] was detected in the halotolerant methanotrophs Methylobacter alcaliphilus 20Z and Methylobacter modestohalophilus 10S. The organic solute pool was found to increase upon raising the NaCl concentration. In M. alcaliphilus 20Z, the intracellular level of the total solutes was shown to be sufficient to balance the osmotic pressure of the medium, whereas in M. modestohalophilus 10S their content was several times lower. Additionally, phosphatidylglycerol and phosphatidylcholine were predominant cell phospholipids in salt-adapted M. alcaliphilus 20Z. However, no phosphatidylcholine was found in M. modestohalophilus 10S, and the portion of phosphatidylglycerol increased while phosphatidylethanolamine decreased upon elevated external NaCl concentrations. Regularly arranged glycoprotein surface layers (S-layers) of hexagonal and linear (p2) symmetry were observed on the outer cell walls of M. alcaliphilus 20Z and M. modestohalophilus 10S. The S-layer in M alcaliphilus 20Z consisting of tightly packed, cup-shaped subunits was lost during growth at pH 7.2 (the lowest possible pH) in the absence of NaCl. Hence, osmoadaptation in the methanotrophs studied involves structure/function alterations of cell envelopes and changes in the chemical composition of membranes as well as de novo synthesis of compatible solutes.