Hemerythrins are oxygen-binding proteins found in the body fluids and tissues of certain invertebrates. Oxygen is bound at a nonheme iron centre consisting of two oxo-bridged iron atoms bound to a characteristic set of conserved histidine: aspartate and glutamate residues with the motifs H-HxxxE-HxxxH-HxxxxD. It has recently been demonstrated biochemically that two bacterial proteins bearing the same motifs do in fact possess similar iron centres and bind oxygen in the same way. The recent profusion of prokaryotic genomic sequence data has shown that proteins bearing hemerythrin motifs are present in a wide variety of bacteria, and a few archaea. Some of these are short proteins as in eukaryotes; others appear to consist of a hemerythrin domain fused to another domain, generally a putative signal transduction domain such as a methyl-accepting chemotaxis protein, a histidine kinase, or a GGDEF protein (cyclic di-GMP synthase). If, as initial evidence suggests, these are in fact hemerythrin-like oxygen-binding proteins, then their diversity in prokaryotes far exceeds that seen in eukaryotes. Here, a survey is presented of prokaryotic protein sequences bearing hemerythrin-like motifs, for which the designation 'bacteriohemerythrins' is proposed, and their functions are speculated.