[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fourteen strains of hyperthermophilic organotrophic anaerobic marine Archaea were isolated from shallow water and deep-sea hot vents, and four of them were characterized. These isolates, eight previously published strains, and six type strains of species of the order Thermococcales were selected for the study of cell wall components by means of thin sectioning or freeze-etching electron microscopy. The cell envelopes of most isolates were shown to consist of regularly arrayed surface protein layers, either single or double, with hexagonal lattice (p6) symmetry, as the exclusive constituents outside the cytoplasmic membrane. The S-layers studied differed in center-to-center spacing and molecular mass of the constituent protein subunits. Polyclonal antisera raised against the cells of 10 species were found to be species-specific and allowed 12 new isolates from shallow water hot vents to be identified as representatives of the species Thermococcus litoralis, Thermococcus stetteri, Thermococcus chitonophagus, and Thermococcus pacificus. Of the 7 deep-sea isolates, only 1 was identified as a T. litoralis strain. Thus, hyperthermophilic marine organotrophic isolates obtained from deep-sea hot vents showed greater diversity with regard to their S-layer proteins than shallow water isolates.