Pyrrolo-quinoline quinone (PQQ) is the non-covalently bound prosthetic group of many quinoproteins catalysing reactions in the periplasm of Gram-negative bacteria. Most of these involve the oxidation of alcohols or aldose sugars. PQQ is formed by fusion of glutamate and tyrosine, but details of the biosynthetic pathway are not known; a polypeptide precursor in the cytoplasm is probably involved, the completed PQQ being transported into the periplasm. In addition to the soluble methanol dehydrogenase of methylotrophs, there are three classes of alcohol dehydrogenases; type I is similar to methanol dehydrogenase; type II is a soluble quinohaemoprotein, having a C-terminal extension containing haem C; type III is similar but it has two additional subunits (one of which is a multihaem cytochrome c), bound in an unusual way to the periplasmic membrane. There are two types of glucose dehydrogenase; one is an atypical soluble quinoprotein which is probably not involved in energy transduction. The more widely distributed glucose dehydrogenases are integral membrane proteins, bound to the membrane by transmembrane helices at the N-terminus. The structures of the catalytic domains of type III alcohol dehydrogenase and membrane glucose dehydrogenase have been modelled successfully on the methanol dehydrogenase structure (determined by X-ray crystallography). Their mechanisms are likely to be similar in many ways and probably always involve a calcium ion (or other divalent cation) at the active site. The electron transport chains involving the soluble alcohol dehydrogenases usually consist only of soluble c-type cytochromes and the appropriate terminal oxidases. The membrane-bound quinohaemoprotein alcohol dehydrogenases pass electrons to membrane ubiquinone which is then oxidized directly by ubiquinol oxidases. The electron acceptor for membrane glucose dehydrogenase is ubiquinone which is subsequently oxidized directly by ubiquinol oxidases or by electron transfer chains involving cytochrome bc1, cytochrome c and cytochrome c oxidases. The function of most of these systems is to produce energy for growth on alcohol or aldose substrates, but there is some debate about the function of glucose dehydrogenases in those bacteria which contain one or more alternative pathways for glucose utilization. Synthesis of the quinoprotein respiratory systems requires production of PQQ, haem and the dehydrogenase subunits, transport of these into the periplasm, and incorporation together with divalent cations, into active quinoproteins and quinohaemoproteins. Six genes required for regulation of synthesis of methanol dehydrogenase have been identified in Methylobacterium, and there is evidence that two, two-component regulatory systems are involved.