Desulfatibacillum alkenivorans AK-01 serves as a model organism for anaerobic alkane biodegradation because of its distinctive biochemistry and metabolic versatility. The D. alkenivorans genome provides a blueprint for understanding the genetic systems involved in alkane metabolism including substrate activation, CoA ligation, carbon-skeleton rearrangement and decarboxylation. Genomic analysis suggested a route to regenerate the fumarate needed for alkane activation via methylmalonyl-CoA and predicted the capability for syntrophic alkane metabolism, which was experimentally verified. Pathways involved in the oxidation of alkanes, alcohols, organic acids and n-saturated fatty acids coupled to sulfate reduction and the ability to grow chemolithoautotrophically were predicted. A complement of genes for motility and oxygen detoxification suggests that D. alkenivorans may be physiologically adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. The D. alkenivorans genome serves as a platform for further study of anaerobic, hydrocarbon-oxidizing microorganisms and their roles in bioremediation, energy recovery and global carbon cycling.