Copper plays a key role in the physiology of methanotrophs. One way that these bacteria meet their high copper requirement is by the biosynthesis and release of high affinity copper binding compounds called methanobactins. Recent advances in methanobactin characterization include the first crystal structure, detailed spectroscopic analyses, and studies of metal ion specificity. Methanobactin may function in copper uptake, regulation of methane monooxygenase expression, protection against copper toxicity, and particulate methane monooxygenase activity. Methanobactin can extract copper from insoluble minerals and could be important for mineral weathering. Many methanobactin properties are reminiscent of iron siderophores, suggesting a similar mechanism of handling. Methanobactin-like compounds have also been identified in yeast mitochondria, suggesting that these molecules are a more universal phenomenon.