First principles calculations of clean and adsorbate-covered surfaces of Si(001) and Ge(001) are reported. Chemical trends in the adsorption of ordered Na, K, Ge, As, Sb, S, Se and Cl overlayers are discussed. The calculations are based on the local-density approximation and employ non-local, norm-conserving pseudopotentials together with Gaussian orbital basis sets. The semi-infinite geometry of the substrate is properly taken into account by employing our scattering theoretical method. From total-energy minimization calculations we obtain optimal surface reconstructions which show asymmetric dimers for Si(001), Ge(001) and Ge:Si(001). For As:Si(001), Sb:Si(001) and Sb:Ge(001), we find symmetric adatom dimers in the equilibrium geometries. S or Se adlayers are found to be adsorbed in bridge positions forming a (1×1) unit cell with a geometry very close to the configuration of a terminated bulk lattice. Cl atoms adsorb on top of the dangling bonds of symmetric Si dimers residing in the first substrate-surface layer. Our calculations for Na:Si(001) and K:Si(001) confirm valley-bridge site adsorption for half monolayer coverage. For full monolayer alkali-metal coverage, adsorption in pedestal and valley-bridge positions is found to be energetically most favourable. The calculated optimal adsorption configurations are in excellent agreement with a whole body of recent experimental data on surface-structure determination. For these structural models, we obtain electronic surface band structures which agree very good with a wealth of data from angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy investigations.