Nine bacterial strains capable of utilising phenol and 2,4-dichlorophenol (DCP) have been isolated from a mixed culture grown on substrates containing these compounds. One of these strains, a Micrococcus sp, was further investigated under aerobic conditions using phenol and DCP as sole carbon and energy sources at various pH values. Phenol degradation was enhanced under alkaline conditions, and up to 500 mg dm(-3) phenol was mineralised within 50 h at pH 10. DCP was more recalcitrant; however up to 883 mg g(-1) and 230 mg g(-1) were degraded within 10 days, when using initial DCP concentrations of 100 and 200 mg dm(-3), respectively. Biomass measurements showed cell growth, proving that both phenol and DCP are used as growth substrates for this isolate. (C) 2003 Society of Chemical Industry.