Desferrioxamine-B (DFOB) is a bacterial trihydroxamate siderophore and probably the most studied to date. However, the manner in which DFOB adsorbs at mineral surfaces and promotes dissolution is still under discussion. Here we investigated the adsorption and dissolution reactions in the goethite-DFOB system using both in situ infrared spectroscopic and quantitative analytical methods. Experiments were carried out at a total DFOB concentration of 1 mu mol/m(2), at pH 6, and in the absence of visible light. Our infrared spectroscopic results indicated that the adsorption of DFOB was nearly complete after a 4-h reaction time. In an attempt to determine the coordination mode at the goethite surface, we compared the spectrum of adsorbed DFOB after a 4-h reaction time to the spectra of model aqueous species. However, this approach proved too simplistic in the case of such a complex ligand as DFOB, and we suggest that a more detailed investigation (IR in D(2)O, EXAFS of adsorbed model complexes) is needed to elucidate the structure of the adsorbed siderophore. Between a 4-h and 4-day reaction time, we observed the growth of carboxylate stretching bands at 1548 and 1404 cm(-1), which are indicators of DFOB hydrolysis. Acetate, a product of DFOB hydrolysis at its terminal hydroxamate group, was quantified by ion chromatography. Its rate of formation was linear and nearly the same as the rate of Fe(III) dissolution. The larger hydrolysis product, a hydroxylamine fragment, was not detected by LC MS. However, a signal due to the oxidized form of this fragment, a nitroso compound, was found to increase linearly with time, which is an indirect indication for Fe(III) reduction. Based on these findings, we propose that DFOB undergoes metal-enhanced hydrolysis at the mineral surface followed by the reduction of surface Fe(III). While Fe(II) was not detected in solution, this is likely because it remains adsorbed at the goethite surface or becomes buried in the goethite crystal by electron conduction. Taking into account the extent and similarity between the rates of hydrolysis and dissolution, we suggest that a reductive mechanism could play an important part in the dissolution of goethite by DFOB. This possibility has not been considered previously in the absence of light and at circumneutral pH. Published by Elsevier Ltd.