Brachiopod phylogeny is still a controversial subject. Analyses using nuclear 18SrRNA and mitochondrial 12SrDNA sequences place them within the protostomes but some recent interpretations of morphological data support a relationship with deuterostomes. In order to investigate brachiopod affinities within the metazoa further, we compared the gene arrangement on the brachiopod mitochondrial genome with several metazoan taxa. The complete (15 451 bp) mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence of the articulate brachiopod Terebratulina retusa was determined from two overlapping long polymerase chain reaction products. All the genes are encoded on the same strand and gene order comparisons showed that only one major rearrangement is required to interconvert the T. retusa and Katharina tunicata (Mollusca: Polyplacophora) mitochondrial genomes. The partial mtDNA sequence of the prosobranch mollusc Littorina saxatilis shows complete congruence with the T. retusa gene arrangement with regard to the ribosomal and protein coding genes. This high similarity in gene arrangement is the first to be reported within the protostomes. Sequence analyses of mitochondrial protein coding genes also support a close relationship of the brachiopod with molluscs and annelids, thus supporting the clade Lophotrochozoa. Though being highly informative, sequence analyses of the mitochondrial protein coding genes failed to resolve the branching order within the lophotrochozoa.