Haem is required for optimal growth of the bacterial anaerobe Bacteroides fragilis. Previous studies have shown that growth in the presence of haem is coincident with increased yields of ATP from glucose, expression of b-type cytochromes and expression of fumarate reductase activity. This paper describes the identification of the genes that encode the cytochrome, iron-sulfur cluster protein and flavoprotein of the B. fragilis fumarate reductase. These genes, frdC, frdA and frdB, respectively, are organized in an operon. Nonpolar, in-frame deletions of frdC and frdB were constructed in the B. fragilis chromosome. These mutant strains had no detectable fumarate reductase or succinate dehydrogenase activity. In addition, the frd mutant strains showed a threefold increase in generation time, relative to the wild-type strain. Growth of these mutant strains was fully restored to the wild-type rate by the introduction of a B. fragilis replicon containing the entire frd operon. Growth of the frd mutant strains was partially restored by supplementing the growth medium with succinate, indicating that the frd gene products function as a fumarate reductase. During growth on glucose, the frd mutant strains showed a threefold decrease in cell mass yield, relative to the wild-type strain. These data indicate that fumarate reductase is important for both energy metabolism and succinate biosynthesis in B. fragilis.