Bacteria belonging to the genus Dehalococcoides play a key role in the complete detoxification of chloroetlienes as these organisms are the only microbes known to be capable of dechlorination beyond dichloroethenes to vinyl chloride (VC) and ethene. However, Dehalococcoides strains usually grow slowly with a doubling time of 1 to 2 days and have complex nutritional requirements. Here we describe the growth of Dehalococcoides ethenogenes 195 in a defined mineral salts medium, improved growth of strain 195 when the medium was amended with high concentrations of vitamin B12, and a strategy for maintaining Dehalococcoides strains on lactate by growing them in consortia. Although strain 195 could grow in defined medium spiked with ∼0.5 mM trichloroethene (TCE) and 0.001 mg/liter vitamin B12, the TCE dechlorination and cellular growth rates doubled when the vitamin B12 concentration was increased 25-fold to 0.025 mg/liter. In addition, the final ratios of ethene to VC increased when the higher vitamin concentration was used, which reflected the key role that cobalamin plays in dechlorination reactions. No further improvement in dechlorination or growth was observed when the vitamin B12 concentration was increased to more than 0.025 mg/liter. In defined consortia containing strain 195 along with Desulfovibrio desulfuricans and/or Acetobacterium woodii and containing lactate as the electron donor, tetrachloroethene (∼0.4 mM) was completely dechlorinated to VC and ethene and there was concomitant growth of Dehalococcoides cells. In the cultures that also contained D. desulfuricans and/or A. woodii, strain 195 cells grew to densities that were 1.5 times greater than the densities obtained when the isolate was grown alone. The ratio of ethene to VC was highest in the presence of A. woodii, an organism that generates cobalamin de novo during metabolism. These findings demonstrate that the growth of D. ethenogenes strain 195 in defined medium can be optimized by providing high concentrations of vitamin B12 and that this strain can be grown to higher densities in cocultures with fermenters that convert lactate to generate the required hydrogen and acetate and that may enhance the availability of vitamin B 12. Copyright © 2007, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.