Sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB) are anaerobic microorganisms that use sulphate as a terminal electron acceptor in, for example, the degradation of organic compounds. They are ubiquitous in anoxic habitats, where they have an important role in both the sulphur and carbon cycles. SRB can cause a serious problem for industries, such as the offshore oil industry, because of the production of sulphide, which is highly reactive, corrosive and toxic. However, these organisms can also be beneficial by removing sulphate and heavy metals from waste streams. Although SRB have been studied for more than a century, it is only with the recent emergence of new molecular biological and genomic techniques that we have begun to obtain detailed information on their way of life.