Thermodynamic data that the reductive dechlorination of 3-chlorobenzoate is exergonic have led to the hypothesis that this reaction yields biologically useful energy. This hypothesis was tested with strain DCB-1, a dehalogenating bacterium. The organism was grown under strictly anaerobic conditions in vitamin-amended mineral medium with formate plus acetate as electron donor and 3-chlorobenzoate as electron acceptor. The cell yield increased stoichiometrically to the amount of 3-chlorobenzoate dechlorinated. No growth was observed in the absence of 3-chlorobenzoate, or when 3-chlorobenzoate was replaced by benzoate. To obtain further evidence on that energy is derived from dechlorination, 3-chlorobenzoate was added to starved cells. This amendment resulted in an increase in the ATP level of the cells at 10 nmol per mg protein versus 3 nmol per mg protein in non-amended controls. These data indicate that the reductive dehalogenation of chlorinated aromatic compounds can be coupled to a novel type of chemotrophy.