Rechargeable lithium ion batteries are important energy storage devices; however, the specific energy of existing lithium ion batteries is still insufficient for many applications due to the limited specific charge capacity of the electrode materials. The recent development of sulfur/mesoporous carbon nanocomposite cathodes represents a particularly exciting advance, but in full battery cells, sulfur-based cathodes have to be paired with metallic lithium anodes as the lithium source, which can result in serious safety issues. Here we report a novel lithium metal-free battery consisting of a Li 2S/mesoporous carbon composite cathode and a silicon nanowire anode. This new battery yields a theoretical specific energy of 1550 Wh kg ?1, which is four times that of the theoretical specific energy of existing lithium-ion batteries based on LiCoO2 cathodes and graphite anodes (∼410 Wh kg?1). The nanostructured design of both electrodes assists in overcoming the issues associated with using sulfur compounds and silicon in lithium-ion batteries, including poor electrical conductivity, significant structural changes, and volume expansion. We have experimentally realized an initial discharge specific energy of 630 Wh kg ?1 based on the mass of the active electrode materials. © 2010 American Chemical Society.