Abstract: Protons and sodium ions are the only used coupling ions in energy transduction in Bacteria and Archaea. At their growth temperature, the permeability of the cytoplasmic membrane of thermophilic bacteria to protons is high as compared to sodium ions. In some thermophiles, therefore, sodium is the sole energy coupling ion. Comparison of the proton- and sodium permeability of the membranes of variety of bacterial and archaeal species that differ in their optimal growth temperature reveals that the permeation processes of protons and sodium ions must occur by different mechanisms. The proton permeability increases with the temperature, and has a comparable value for most species at their respective growth temperatures. The sodium permeability is lower than the proton permeability and increases also with the temperature, but is lipid independent. Therefore, it appears that for most bacteria the physical properties of the cytoplasmic membrane are optimised to ensure a low proton permeability at the respective growth temperature.