Reduction of the cobalt ion of cobalamin from the Co(III) to the Co(I) oxidation state is essential for the synthesis of adenosylcobalamin, the coenzymic form of this cofactor. A cob(II)alamin reductase activity in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium LT2 was isolated to homogeneity. N-terminal analysis of the homogeneous protein identified NAD(P)H:flavin oxidoreductase (Fre) (EC 126.96.36.199) as the enzyme responsible for this activity. The fre gene was cloned, and the overexpressed protein, with a histidine tag at its N terminus, was purified to homogeneity by nickel affinity chromatography. His-tagged Fre reduced flavins (flavin mononucleotide [FMN] and flavin adenine dinucleotide [FAD]) and cob(III)alamin to cob(II)alamin very efficiently. Photochemically reduced FMN substituted for Fre in the reduction of cob(III)alamin to cob(II)alamin, indicating that the observed cobalamin reduction activity was not Fre dependent but FMNH(2) dependent. Enzyme-independent reduction of cob(III)alamin to cob(II)alamin by FMNH(2) occurred at a rate too fast to be measured. The thermodynamically unfavorable reduction of cob(II)alamin to cob(I)alamin was detectable by alkylation of the cob(I)alamin nucleophile with iodoacetate. Detection of the product, caboxymethylcob(III)alamin, depended on the presence of FMNH(2) in the reaction mixture. FMNH(2) failed to substitute for potassium borohydride in in vitro assays for corrinoid adenosylation catalyzed by the ATP:co(I)rrinoid adenosyltransferase (CobA) enzyme, even under conditions where Fre and NADH were present in the reaction mixture to ensure that FMN was always reduced. These results were interpreted to mean that Fre was not responsible for the generation of cob(I)alamin in vivo. Consistent with this idea, a fre mutant displayed wild-type cobalamin biosynthetic phenotypes. It is proposed that S. enterica serovar Typhimurium LT2 may not have a cob(III)alamin reductase enzyme and that, in vivo, nonadenosylated cobalamin and other corrinoids are maintained as co(II)rrinoids by reduced flavin nucleotides generated by Fre and other flavin oxidoreductases.