A mixed microbial culture degraded a mixture of benzoate (863 mg/L), 3-chlorobenzoate (3-CB) (69.7 mg/L), and pyruvate (244 mg/L) under denitrifying conditions in a chemostat. Biodegradation under denitrifying conditions was stable, complete (effluent concentrations below detection limits), and proceeded without the production of toxic intermediates like chlorocatechols. The addition of oxygen at mass input rates of 6.21/,,, 15.5%, and 43.9% of the mass input rate of chemical oxygen demand (COD) (337 mg COD/h) did not induce the synthesis of aerobic biodegradation pathways and thus did not disrupt biodegradation. Rather, the oxygen was used as a terminal electron acceptor, displacing a stoichiometric amount of nitrate, leading to microaerobic conditions (dissolved oxygen concentration <0.050mg/L) in which oxygen utilization and denitrification occurred simultaneously. The reduction of nitrate occurred fully to N-2 gas with no accumulation of nitrite, nitrous oxide, or nitric oxide, although the ability of the culture to transfer electrons to the nitrogen oxides decreased as the oxygen input was increased. The anoxic benzoate uptake capability was unaffected by the increase in oxygen addition, but the anoxic 3-CB uptake capability increased, as did the level of benzoyl-CoA reductase in the cells. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.