Sulphate-reducing activity in human faecal slurries was followed by measuring sulphide production. Sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB) were found to outcompete methanogenic bacteria (MB) for the mutual substrate hydrogen in faecal slurries from methane- and non-methane-producing individuals mixed together. When molybdate (20 mmol/l) was added to these slurries, sulphate reduction was inhibited and methanogenesis became the major route of electron disposal. Sulphide production was stimulated by the addition of 20 mmol/l sulphate in non-methanogenic but not in methanogenic slurries. In methanogenic slurries that contained the methanogen inhibitor 2-bromoethanesulphonic acid (BES), hydrogen accumulated whilst sulphide levels were unaffected, confirming the absence of SRB in methanogenic faeces. The addition of nitrate (10 mmol/l) to faecal slurries completely inhibited methanogenesis but only slightly reduced sulphate reduction. The sulphated mucopolysaccharides, chondroitin sulphate and mucin, strongly stimulated sulphide production in non-methanogenic faecal slurries only, suggesting that these substances may be a potential source of sulphate in the large gut.