Corynebacterium glutamicum is an aerobic bacterium that requires oxygen as exogenous electron acceptor for respiration. Recent molecular and biochemical analyses together with information obtained from the genome sequence showed that C. glutamicum possesses a branched electron transport chain to oxygen with some remarkable features. Reducing equivalents obtained by the oxidation of various substrates are transferred to menaquinone via at least eight different dehydrogenases, i.e. NADH dehydrogenase, succinate dehydrogenase, malate:quinone oxidoreductase, pyruvate:quinone oxidoreductase, D-lactate dehydrogenase, L-lactate dehydrogenase, glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase and L-proline dehydrogenase. All these enzymes contain a flavin cofactor and, except succinate dehydrogenase, are single subunit peripheral membrane proteins located inside the cell. From menaquinol, the electrons are passed either via the cytochrome bc(1) complex to the aa(3)-type cytochrome c oxidase with low oxygen affinity, or to the cytochrome bd-type menaquinol oxidase with high oxygen affinity. The former branch is exceptional, in that it does not involve a separate cytochrome c for electron transfer from cytochrome c(1) to the Cu(A) center in subunit II of cytochrome aa(3). Rather, cytochrome c(1) contains two covalently bound heme groups, one of which presumably takes over the function of a separate cytochrome c. The bc(1) complex and cytochrome aa(3) oxidase form a supercomplex in C. glutamicum. The phenotype of defined mutants revealed that the bc(1)-aa(3) branch, but not the bd branch, is of major importance for aerobic growth in minimal medium. Changes of the efficiency of oxidative phosphorylation caused by qualitative changes of the respiratory chain or by a defective F(1)F(0)-ATP synthase were found to have strong effects on metabolism and amino acid production. Therefore, the system of oxidative phosphorylation represents an attractive target for improving amino acid productivity of C. glutamicum by metabolic engineering.