Intracellular crystals of magnetite synthesized by cells of the magnetotactic vibroid organism, MV-1, and extracellular crystals of magnetite produced by the non-magnetotactic dissimilatory iron-reducing bacterium strain GS-15, were examined using high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, electron diffraction and57Fe Mo¨ssbauer spectroscopy. The magnetotactic bacterium contained a single chain of approximately 10 crystals aligned along the long axis of the cell. The crystals were essentially pure stoichiometric magnetite. When viewed along the crystal long axis the particles had a hexagonal cross-section whereas side-on they appeared as rectangules or truncated rectangles of average dimension, 53 × 35 nm. These findings are explained in terms of a three-dimensional morphology comprising a hexagonal prism of 110 faces which are capped and truncated by 111 end faces. Electron diffraction and lattice imaging studies indicated that the particles were structurally well-defined single crystals. In contrast, magnetite particles produced by the strain, GS-15 were irregular in shape and had smaller mean dimensions (14 nm). Single crystals were imaged but these were not of high structural perfection. These results highlight the influence of intracellular control on the crystallochemical specificity of bacterial magnetites. The characterization of these crystals is important in aiding the identification of biogenic magnetic materials in paleomagnetism and in studies of sediment magnetization.