The contribution of major bacterial groups to the assimilation of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and glucose in the Delaware Estuary was assessed using microautoradiography and fluorescence in situ hybridization. Bacterial groups contributed to EPS and glucose assimilation in part according to their distribution in the estuary. Abundance of the phylogenetic groups explained 35% and 55% of the variation in EPS and glucose assimilation, respectively. Actinobacteria contributed 70% to glucose assimilation in freshwater, while Alphaproteobacteria assimilated 60% of this compound in saline water. In contrast, various bacterial groups dominated the assimilation of EPS. Actinobacteria and Betaproteobacteria contributed the most in the freshwater section, whereas Cytophaga-like bacteria and Alpha- and Gammaproteobacteria participated in EPS assimilation in the lower part of the estuary. In addition, we examined the fraction of bacteria in each group that assimilated glucose or EPS. Overall, the fraction of bacteria in all groups that assimilated glucose was higher than the fraction that assimilated EPS (15 to 30% versus 5 to 20%, respectively). We found no correlation between the relative abundance of a group in the estuary and the fraction of bacteria actively assimilating glucose or EPS; the more active groups were often less abundant. Our results imply that the bacterial community in the Delaware Estuary is not controlled solely by “bottom-up” factors such as dissolved organic matter.