The detoxification of cyanide by algae was examined by exposing cultured suspensions of Arthrospira maxima, Chlorella sp. and Scenedesmus obliquus in growth media to varying concentrations in short-time batch tests. In each experiment, the pH was adjusted to 10.3. The effect of pH, initial concentration of algal cells, temperature and cyanide concentration on microbial detoxification were examined. Under the experimental conditions, initial microbial detoxification rates of 50 and 100 mg/L free cyanide were observed for 25 h. A. maxima did not survive due to its sensitivity to the higher cyanide concentrations in the solutions. S. obliquus removed the cyanide to a greater extent than did Chlorella sp. S. obliquus detoxified 99% of the cyanide, while Chlorella sp. removed about 86% in the same time period. For the raised cyanide concentrations between 100 and 400 mg/L, S. obliquus was the only microorganism tested for 67 h. Kinetic studies of cyanide detoxification showed that microbial removal was linearly correlated with concentration. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.