Sulfide is oxidized in the mitochondria of the lugworm Arenicola marina. Mitochondrial sulfide oxidation is coupled with oxygen consumption and with an equimolar production of thiosulfate [Völkel, S. & Grieshaber, M. K. (1994) Mar. Biol. 118, 137-147]. Mitochondrial respiration in the presence of malate (or succinate) and ADP but without sulfide could be completely inhibited by rotenone, antimycin, cyanide, and sulfide. Only 40% inhibition was achieved by salicylhydroxamic acid. Sulfide oxidation (with sulfide as the only substrate) was fully inhibited by antimycin and by salicylhydroxamic acid but not by rotenone or sulfide. Moreover, sulfide oxidation was 3-4-fold less sensitive to cyanide as compared to normal respiration. The data indicate that sulfide oxidation in A. marina is linked to the respiratory electron transport chain. We suggest that electrons from sulfide enter the respiratory chain via ubiquinone or at the ubiquinol-cytochrome-c oxidoreductase. At sulfide concentrations higher than 10 microM, the cytochrome-c oxidase is blocked and electrons from sulfide are transferred to oxygen via an alternative terminal oxidase.