An organism that is able to reductively ortho-dechlorinate 2,4-dichlorophenol and 3-chloro-4-hydroxyphenylacetate (3-Cl-4-OHPA) was isolated from a methanogenic lake sediment. This organism, an anaerobic, motile, Gram-type-positive, rod-shaped bacterium, grew in the presence of 0.1% yeast extract when pyruvate, lactate, formate, or hydrogen was used as the electron donor for reductive dehalogenation of 3-Cl-4-OHPA. Sulfite, thiosulfate, and sulfur were reduced to sulfide, nitrate was reduced to nitrite, and fumarate was reduced to succinate. Dissimilatory reduction of sulfate could not be demonstrated, and no adenylylsulfate reductase was detected with an immunoassay. The organism fermented two pyruvate molecules to one lactate molecule, one acetate molecule, and one carbon dioxide molecule. The pH and temperature optima for both growth and dechlorination of 3-Cl-4-OHPA were 7.5 and 38 degrees C, respectively. The doubling time under these conditions was approximately 3.5 h. On the basis of the results of a 16S rRNA analysis and the inability of the organism to use sulfate as an electron acceptor, strain JW/IU-DC1 is described as the type strain of the new taxon Desulfitobacterium dehalogenans gen. nov., sp. nov.