Mangrove soils are anaerobic environments rich in sulphate and organic matter. Although the sulphur cycle is one of the major actors in this ecosystem, little is known regarding the sulphur bacteria communities in mangrove soils. We investigated the abundance, composition and diversity of sulphur-oxidizing (SOB) and sulphate-reducing (SRB) bacteria in sediments from three Brazilian mangrove communities: two contaminated, one with oil (OilMgv) and one with urban waste and sludge (AntMgv), and one pristine (PrsMgv). The community structures were assessed using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) and clone libraries, using genes for the enzymes adenosine-5′-phosphosulphate reductase (aprA) and sulphite reductase (Dsr) (dsrB). The abundance for qPCR showed the ratio dsrB/aprA to be variable among mangroves and higher according to the gradient observed for oil contamination in the OilMgv. The PCR-DGGE patterns analysed by Nonmetric Multidimensional Scaling revealed differences among the structures of the three mangrove communities. The clone libraries showed that Betaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria and Deltaproteobacteria were the most abundant groups associated with sulphur cycling in mangrove sediments. We conclude that the microbial SOB and SRB communities in mangrove soils are different in each mangrove forest and that such microbial communities could possibly be used as a proxy for contamination in mangrove forests.