Under conditions that are not conducive to growth, such as nutrient depletion, many members of the orders Bacillales and Clostridiales can sporulate, generating dormant and resistant spores that can survive in the absence of nutrients for years under harsh conditions. However, when nutrients are again present, these spores can return to active growth through the process of germination. Many of the components of the spore germination machinery are conserved between spore forming members of the Bacillales and Clostridiales orders. However, recent studies have revealed significant differences between the germination of spores of Clostridium perfringens and that of spores of a number of Bacillus species, both in the proteins and in the signal transduction pathways involved. In this review, the roles of components of the spore germination machinery of C. perfringens and several Bacillus species and the bioinformatic analysis of germination proteins in the Bacillales and Clostridiales orders are discussed and models for the germination of spores of these two orders are proposed.