The effects of increasing nitrobenzene (NB) concentrations and hydraulic retention times (HRT) on the treatment of NB were investigated in a sequential anaerobic baffled reactor (ABR)/aerobic completely stirred tank reactor (CSTR) system. In the first step of the study, the maximum COD removal efficiencies were found as 88% and 92% at NB concentrations varying between 30 mg L-1 and 210 mg L-1 in ABR. The minimum COD removal efficiency was 79% at a NB concentration of 700 mg L-1. The removal efficiency of NB was nearly 100% for all NB concentrations in the ABR reactor. The methane gas production and the methane gas percentage remained stable (1500 mL day(-1) and 48-50%, respectively) as the NB concentration was increased from 30 to 210 mg L-1. In the second step of the study it was found that as the HRT decreased from 10.38 days to 2.5 days the COD removal efficiencies decreased slightly from 94% to 92% in the ABR. For maximum COD and NB removal efficiencies the optimum HRT was found as 2.5 days in the ABR. The total COD removal efficiency was 95% in sequential anaerobic (ABR)/aerobic (CSTR) reactor system at a minimum HRT of 1 day. When the HRT was decreased from 10.38 days to 1 day, the methane percentage decreased from 42% to 29% in an ABR reactor treating 100 mg L-1 NB. Nitrobenzene was reduced to aniline under anaerobic conditions while aniline was mineralized to catechol with meta cleavage under aerobic conditions. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.