Biology is believed to play a large role in the cycling of iron and manganese in many freshwater environments, but specific microbial groups indigenous to these systems have not been well characterized. To investigate the populations of Bacteria and Archaea associated with metal-rich sediments from Green Bay, WI, we extracted nucleic acids and analysed the phylogenetic relationships of cloned 16S rRNA genes. Because nucleic acids have not been routinely extracted from metal-rich samples, we investigated the bias inherent in DNA extraction and gene amplification from pure MnO2 using defined populations of whole cells or naked DNA. From the sediments, we screened for manganese-oxidizing bacteria using indicator media and found three isolates that were capable of manganese oxidation. In the phylogenetic analysis of bacterial 16S rRNA gene clones, we found two groups related to known metal-oxidizing genera, Leptothrix of the β-Proteobacteria and Hyphomicrobium of the α-Proteobacteria, and a Fe(III)-reducing group related to the Magnetospirillum genus of the α-Proteobacteria. Groups related to the metal-reducing δ-Proteobacteria constituted 22% of the gene clones. In addition, gene sequences from one group of methanogens and a group of Crenarchaeota, identified in the archaeal gene clone library, were related to those found previously in Lake Michigan sediments.