Stability and resistance to dissolution are key features of microbial biofilms. How these macroscopic properties are determined by the physiological state of individual biofilm cells in their local physical-chemical and cellular environment is largely unknown. In order to obtain molecular and energetic insight into biofilm stability, we investigated whether maintenance of biofilm stability is an energy-dependent process and whether transcription and/or translation is required for biofilm dissolution. We found that in 12-hour-old Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 biofilms, a reduction in cellular ATP concentration, induced either by oxygen deprivation or by addition of the inhibitor of oxidative phosphorylation carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP), dinitrophenol (DNP), or CN(-), resulted in massive dissolution. In 60-hour-old biofilms, the extent of uncoupler-induced cell loss was strongly attenuated, indicating that the integrity of older biofilms is maintained by means other than those operating in younger biofilms. In experiments with 12-hour-old biofilms, the transcriptional and translational inhibitors rifampin, tetracycline, and erythromycin were found to be ineffective in preventing energy starvation-induced detachment, suggesting that neither transcription nor translation is required for this process. Biofilms of Vibrio cholerae were also induced to dissolve upon CCCP addition to an extent similar to that in S. oneidensis. However, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and P. putida biofilms remained insensitive to CCCP addition. Collectively, our data show that metabolic energy is directly or indirectly required for maintaining cell attachment, and this may represent a common but not ubiquitous mechanism for stability of microbial biofilms.