The potential for various substances to serve as electron shuttles between Fe(III)-reducing microorganisms and insoluble Fe(III) oxides in aquifer sediments was evaluated in order to determine whether abiological mechanisms might play a role in the apparent microbial reduction of Fe(III) in subsurface sediments. Humic substances (humics) and the humics analogue, anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonate (AQDS), which were previously found to stimulate microbial reduction of synthetic poorly crystalline Fe(III) oxide under laboratory conditions, were found to also stimulate the reduction of aquifer Fe(III) oxides by indigenous microorganisms. Electron shuttling via biological reduction of U(VI) or S° followed by abiological reduction of Fe(III) by U(IV) or sulfide enhanced the reduction of synthetic Fe(III) oxide in cell suspensions, but these potential electron shuttles did not stimulate Fe(III) reduction when they were added to aquifer sediments. These results emphasize the importance of evaluating potential mechanisms for Fe(III) reduction with natural Fe(III) oxides, under environmentally relevant conditions. The finding that humics and other extracellular quinones can serve as electron shuttles to the Fe(III) oxides found in subsurface environments suggests that some Fe(III) reduction which was previously considered to be the result of direct enzymatic reduction of Fe(III) oxides may instead result from abiotic reduction of Fe(III) by microbially reduced humics or other microbially generated hydroquinones.