A detailed microbiological and geochemical study related to the alteration of basaltic glass of pillow lavas from the oceanic crust recovered from Hole 896A on the Costa Rica Rift (penetrating 290 m into the volcanic basement) has been carried out. A number of independent observations, pointing to the influence of microbes, may be summarized as follows: (1) Alteration textures are reminiscent of microbes in terms of form and shape. (2) Altered material contains appreciable amounts of C, N and K, and the N/C ratios are comparable to those of nitrogen-starved bacteria. (3) Samples stained with a dye (DAPI) that binds specifically to nucleic acids show the presence of DNA in the altered glass. Further, staining with fluorescent labeled oligonucleotide probes that hybridize specifically to 16S-ribosomal RNA of bacteria and archaea demonstrate their presence in the altered part of the glass. (4) Disseminated carbonate in the glassy margin of the majority of pillows shows δ 13C values, significantly lower than that of fresh basalt, also suggests biological activity. The majority of the samples have δ 18O values indicating temperatures of 20-100°C, which is in the range of mesophilic and thermophilic micro-organisms.