The start-up of a full-scale synthesis gas-fed gas-lift reactor treating metal and sulfate-rich wastewater was investigated. Sludge from a pilot-scale reactor was used to seed the full-scale reactor. The main difference in design between the pilot- and full-scale reactor was that metal precipitation and sulfate reduction occurred in the same reactor. After 7 weeks the full-scale reactor achieved the sulfate conversion design rate of 15 kg/m3 day. Zinc sulfide precipitation inside the reactor did not interfere with obtaining a high rate of sulfate reduction. 16S rRNA gene analysis demonstrated that the bacterial communities in both reactors were dominated by the sulfate-reducing genus Desulfomicrobium. Archaeal communities of both reactors were dominated by the methanogenic genus Methanobacterium. Most Probable Number (MPN) counts confirmed that heterotrophic Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria (SRB) were dominant (1011¿1012 cells/g VSS) compared to homoacetogens (105¿106 cells/g VSS) and methanogens (108¿109 cells/g VSS). Methanogenesis was not suppressed during start-up of the full scale-reactor, despite the predominance of SRB, which have a lower hydrogen threshold. Due to the short sludge retention time (4¿7 days) competition for hydrogen is determined by Monod kinetics, not hydrogen thresholds. As the kinetic parameters for SRB and methanogens are similar, methanogenesis may persist which results in a loss of hydrogen.