In the microbial reductive dechlorination of tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE), dechlorinators usually produce cis-1,2-dichloroethene (cis-DCE) as the predominant product or an intermediate. This study shows that dechlorination of PCE and TCE can also lead to the generation of trans-1,2-dichloroethene (trans-DCE) by a co-culture MB. During its enrichment process, the ratio of trans- to cis-DCE increased from 1.4 (+/-0.1):1-3.7 (+/-0.4):1, whereas the TCE reductive dechlorination rate went up from approximately 26.2 to approximately 68.8 micromol l(-1) day(-1). PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) revealed that the increased ratio of trans- /cis-DCE was well correlated with the increased proportions of Dehalococcoides and the disappearance of Desulfuromonas during the enrichment process. As shown by PCR-DGGE, similar Dehalococcoides species were consistently present in another three sediment-free cultures with various trans- /cis-DCE ratios. The 16S rRNA gene sequence of this Dehalococcoides sp. in co-culture MB is 100% identical (over 1489 bp) to that of Dehalococcoides ethenogenes strain 195 (CP000027), which belongs to the Cornell subgroup of the Dehalococcoides cluster. The other bacterium in this co-culture MB was a Sedimentibacter species, which showed no PCE or TCE dechlorination activity. Results from this study show that microbial dechlorination of chloroethenes by this particular subgroup of Dehalococcoides could result in significant accumulation of trans-DCE in the environment if no trans-DCE dechlorinators coexist in the contaminated sites.