Colony counts of acetate-, propionate- and L-lactate-oxidizing sulfate-reducing bacteria in marine sediments were made. The vertical distribution of these organisms were equal for the three types considered. The highest numbers were found just beneath the border of aerobic and anaerobic layers. Anaerobic mineralization of acetate, propionate and L-lactate was studied in the presence and in the absence of sulfate. In freshwater and in marine sediments, acetate and propionate were oxidized completely with concomitant reduction of sulfate. L-Lactate was always fermented. Lactate-oxidizing, sulfate-reducing bacteria could only be isolated from marine sediments, they belonged to the genus Desulfobacter and oxidized only acetate and ethanol by sulfate reduction. Propionate-oxidizing, sulfate-reducing bacteria belonged to the genus Desulfobulbus. They were isolated from freshwater as well as from marine sediments and showed a relatively large range of usable substrates: hydrogen, formate, propionate, L-lactate and ethanol were oxidized with concomitant sulfate reduction. L-Lactate and pyruvate could be fermented by most of the isolated strains.