A polyphasic approach was used in which genotypic and phenotypic properties of a gram-negative, obligately anaerobic, rod-shaped bacterium isolated from a black anoxic freshwater mud sample were determined. Based on these results, the name Holophaga foetida gen. nov., sp. nov. is proposed. This microorganism produced dimethylsulfide and methanethiol during growth on trimethoxybenzoate or syringate. The only other compounds utilized were pyruvate and trihydroxybenzenes such as gallate, phloroglucinol, or pyrogallol. The aromatic compounds were degraded to acetate. Although comparison of the signature nucleotide pattern of the five established subclasses of Proteobacteria with the 16S rDNA sequence of Holophaga foetida revealed a relationship to members of the delta-subclass, the phylogenetic position within the radiation of this class is so deep and dependent upon the number and selection of reference sequences that its affiliation to the Proteobacteria must be considered tentative. The type strain is H. foetida strain TMBS4 (DSM 6591).