Cadmium resistance (0.1 to 1.0 mM) was studied in four pure and one mixed culture of sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB). The growth of the bacteria was monitored with respect to carbon source (lactate) oxidation and sulfate reduction in the presence of various concentrations of cadmium chloride. Two strains Desulfovibrio desulfuricans DSM 1926 and Desulfococcus multivorans DSM 2059 showed the highest resistance to cadmium (0.5 mM). Transmission electron microscopy of the two strains showed intracellular and periplasmic accumulation of cadmium. Dot blot DNA hybridization using the probes for the smtAB, cadAC, and cadD genes indicated the presence of similar genetic determinants of heavy metal resistance in the SRB tested. DNA sequencing of the amplified DNA showed strong nucleotide homology in all the SRB strains with the known smtAB genes encoding synechococcal metallothioneins. Protein homology with the known heavy metal-translocating ATPases was also detected in the cloned amplified DNA of Desulfomicrobium norvegicum I1 and Desulfovibrio desulfuricans DSM 1926, suggesting the presence of multiple genetic mechanisms of metal resistance in the two strains.