During our study of the 16S rRNA gene sequence-based archaeal diversity of a deep-sea site located at a 3,000 m depth at the Antarctic Polar Front, we detected several phylotypes ascribed to already known Group II and III Euryarchaeota, and a cluster of distinct sequences that branched off at the base of haloarchaea. The position of this lineage (marine Group IV) was very robust using distance (neighbour-joining) and maximum-likelihood methods. Subsequently, we designed specific primers for the detection of this archaeal group in other marine environments using polymerase chain reaction amplification and sequence comparison. Group IV archaea were found in the Antarctic area (across a gradient from the Southern ocean to the South Atlantic), and also in North Atlantic and Mediterranean waters. In all oceanic locations, Group IV archaea were never detected in surface waters, but were vertically distributed in the deepest part of the water column.