Except for environmental 16S rRNA gene sequences, no information is available for members of the candidate division OP3. These bacteria appear to thrive in anoxic environments, such as marine sediments, hypersaline deep sea, freshwater lakes, aquifers, flooded paddy soils and methanogenic bioreactors. The 16S rRNA phylogeny suggests that OP3 belongs to the Planctomycetes/Verrucomicrobia/Chlamydiae (PVC) superphylum. Metagenomic fosmid libraries were constructed from flooded paddy soil and screened for 16S rRNA gene-containing fragments affiliated with the PVC superphylum. The screening of 63 000 clones resulted in 23 assay-positive fosmids, of which three clones were affiliated with OP3. The 16S rRNA gene sequence divergence between the fragments OP3/1, OP3/2 and OP3/3 ranges from 18% to 25%, indicating that they belong to different OP3 subdivisions. The 23S rRNA phylogeny confirmed the membership of OP3 in the PVC superphylum. Sequencing the OP3 fragments resulted in a total of 105 kb of genomic information and 90 ORFs, of which 47 could be assigned a putative function and 11 were conserved hypothetical. Using BLASTP searches, a high proportion of ORFs had best matches to homologues from Deltaproteobacteria, rather than to those of members of the PVC superphylum. On the fragment OP3/3, a cluster of nine ORFs was predicted to encode the bacterial NADH dehydrogenase I. Given the high proportion of homologues present in deltaproteobacteria and anoxic conditions in the natural environment of OP3 bacteria, the detection of NADH dehydrogenase I may suggest an anaerobic respiration mode. Oligonucleotide frequencies calculated for OP3/1, OP3/2 and OP/3 show high intraphylum correlations. This novel sequence information could therefore be used to identify OP3-related fragments in large metagenomic data sets using marker gene-independent procedures in the future. In addition to the OP3 fragments, a single metagenomic fragment affiliated with the candidate division BRC1 was obtained and analysed.