Phosphagen kinases are found throughout the animal kingdom and catalyze the transfer of a high-energy gamma phosphoryl-group from ATP to a guanidino group on a suitable acceptor molecule such as creatine or arginine. Recent genome sequencing efforts in several proteobacteria, including Desulfotalea psychrophila LSv54, Myxococcus xanthus, Sulfurovum sp. NBC37-1, and Moritella sp. PE36 have revealed what appears to be a phosphagen kinase homolog present in their genomes. Based on sequence comparisons these putative homologs bear a strong resemblance to arginine kinases found in many invertebrates and some protozoa. We describe here a biochemical characterization of one of these homologs from D. psychrophila expressed in E. coli that confirms its ability to reversibly catalyze phosphoryl transfer from ATP to arginine. A phylogenetic analysis suggests that these bacteria homologs are not widely distributed in proteobacteria species. They appear more related to protozoan arginine kinases than to similar proteins seen in some Gram-positive bacteria that share key catalytic residues but encode protein tyrosine kinases. This raises the possibility of horizontal gene transfer as a likely origin of the bacterial arginine kinases.