The abundance, distribution, and phylogenetic diversity of members of the Fe(III)-reducing family Geobacteraceae were studied along a gradient of metal contaminants in Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Partial 16S rRNA gene fragments were amplified by PCR using primers directed toward conserved regions of the gene within the family Geobacteraceae. Analysis of amplicons separated by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) suggested within-site variation was as great as between-site variation. Amplicons were cloned and grouped by RFLP type and DGGE migration distance and representatives were sequenced. Grouping clones with 3% or less sequence dissimilarity, 15 distinct phylotypes were identified compared to 16 distinct DGGE bands. Only 1 phylotype was recovered from all sites. This clone, B14, is most closely related to Geobacter metallireducens and constituted a greater portion of the pristine community than of the contaminated communities. A second phylotype, Q2, predominated in the contaminated communities and was notably absent from the pristine libraries. Clone Q2 presents a high degree of sequence similarity to two Geobacter spp. previously isolated from this region of Lake Coeur d'Alene. Six phylotypes were unique to the contaminated sediments, whereas two were found only in the pristine sediments. Indices of diversity (Shannon and Simpson) were consistently higher when calculated with DGGE data than when clone library data were used. Most-probable-number PCR and real-time PCR suggested that the Geobacteraceae phylotypes were spread relatively evenly across all three sites along the gradient. Our data indicate that the Geobacteraceae are diverse and abundant in Lake Coeur d'Alene sediments, regardless of metals content. These results provide insight into the ability of dissimilatory Fe(III)-reducing bacteria to colonize habitats with elevated metal concentrations, and they have important implications for the management and remediation of metal-contaminated sites.