The potential of using ozone for the removal of phenanthrene from several different soils, both alone and in combination with biodegradation using a microbial inoculant (Pseudomonas alcaligenes PA-10), was examined. The greater the water content of the soil the less effective the ozone treatment, with air-dried soils showing the greatest removal of phenanthrene; while soils with higher levels of clay also reduced the effectiveness of the ozone treatments. However, at least a 50% reduction in phenanthrene levels was achieved in air-dried soil after an ozone treatment of 6 h at 20 ppm, with up to 85% removal of phenanthrene achieved in sandy soils. The biodegradation results indicate that P. alcaligenes PA-10 may be useful as an inoculant for the removal of PAHs from contaminated soils. Under the conditions used in our experiments, however, pre-ozonation did not enhance subsequent biodegradation of phenanthrene in the soils. Similar levels of phenanthrene removal occurred in both non-ozonated and ozonated Cruden Bay soil inoculated with P. alcaligenes PA-10. However, the biodegradation of phenanthrene in ozonated Boyndie soil was much slower. This may be due to the release of toxic products in this soil during ozonation. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.