Potential rates of in vitro methane oxidation in sediments from a floodplain wetland in south-eastern Australia ranged between 0·05 and 0·45 μmol cm−3 h−1. These rates were at least an order of magnitude greater than were potential rates of in vitro methanogenesis, indicating that methanotrophic bacteria could intercept most of the methane produced in the sediments before it was lost to the atmosphere. This finding has implications for environmental management strategies designed to limit methane emissions from natural wetlands, and for fundamental studies of carbon cycling in natural freshwater environments, where methane emissions have been used as an indicator of rates of anaerobic decay of plant detritus. Methane oxidation was an obligately aerobic process, and added sulphate or nitrate could not replace oxygen as a suitable oxidant. Ammonium had little effect on methane oxidation, but allythiourea was strongly inhibitory.