A thermostable alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH-I) isolated from the potential thermophilic ethanologen Geobacillus thermoglucosidasius strain M10EXG has been characterised. Inverse PCR showed that the gene (adhI) was localised with 3-hexulose-6-phosphate synthase (HPS) and 6-phospho-3 hexuloisomerase (PHI) on its genome. The deduced peptide sequence of the 1020-bp M10EXG adhI, which corresponds to 340 amino acids, shows 96% and 89% similarity to ADH-hT and ADH-T from Geobacillus stearothermophilus strains LLD-R and NCA 1503, respectively. Over-expression of M10EXG ADH-I in Escherichia coli DH5alpha (pNF303) was confirmed using an ADH activity assay and SDS-PAGE analysis. The specific ADH activity in the extract from this recombinant strain was 9.7(+/-0.3) U mg(-1) protein, compared to 0.1(+/-0.01) U mg(-1) protein in the control strain. The recombinant E. coli showed enzymatic activity towards ethanol, 1-butanol, 1-pentanol, 1-heptanol, 1-hexanol, 1-octanol and 2-propanol, but not methanol. In silico analysis, including phylogenetic reconstruction and protein modeling, confirmed that the thermostable enzyme from G. thermoglucosidasius is likely to belong to the NAD-Zn-dependent family of alcohol dehydrogenases.