Pro- and eukaryotic algal genera, i.e. Lyngbya majuscula, Spirulina subsalsa (Cyanophyceae) and Rhizoclonium hieroglyphicum (Chlorophyceae), were used for bio-recovery of gold (Au) out of aqueous solution. Au (III) spiked with 198Au was used for the experiment. Batch laboratory experiments indicated quick metabolic independent binding of Au to the algae followed by active accumulation and subsequent reduction. Gold accumulation by different algal genera was found in order of R. hieroglyphicum > L. majuscula > S. subsalsa (3.28, 1.93 and 1.73 mg g-1, respectively). It was observed that the algal biomass and the media used for the experiment turned purple in colour indicating reduction of Au (III) to Au (0) at intra- and extracellular level. This was confirmed by TEM studies of L. majuscula biomass exposed in HAuCl4 solution where <20-nm-sized gold particles were found both inside as well as on the surface of the cell. Up to 90-100% of accumulated gold was recovered from the algal biomass by using nitric acid and acidic thiourea solution. © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.