Assimilatory and dissimilatory sulphite reductions are key reactions in the biogeochemical sulphur cycle and several distinct sirohaem-containing sulphite reductases have been characterized. Here, we describe that the Epsilonproteobacterium Wolinella succinogenes is able to grow by sulphite respiration (yielding sulphide) with formate as electron donor. Sulphite is reduced by MccA, a prototypical member of an emerging new class of periplasmic cytochrome c sulphite reductases that, phylogenetically, belongs to a multihaem cytochrome c superfamily whose members play crucial roles in the global sulphur and nitrogen cycles. Within this family, MccA represents an unconventional octahaem cytochrome c containing a special haem c group that is bound via two cysteine residues arranged in a unique CX15CH haem c binding motif. The phenotypes of numerous W. succinogenes mutants producing MccA variants underlined the structural importance of this motif. Several open reading frames of the mcc gene cluster were individually inactivated and characterization of the corresponding mutants indicated that the predicted iron-sulphur protein MccC, the putative quinol dehydrogenase MccD (a member of the NrfD/PsrC family) as well as a peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase, MccB, are essential for sulphite respiration. MccA synthesis in W. succinogenes was found to be induced by sulphite (but not by thiosulphate or sulphide) and repressed in the presence of fumarate or nitrate. Based on the results, a sophisticated model of respiratory sulphite reduction by the Mcc system is presented.