The influence of benzene as a growth substrate on the cometabolic conversion of thiophene was investigated in batch systems with microorganisms originating from an creosote contaminated site. Benzene was shown to stimulate the conversion of thiophene with a first-order rate, during the initial phase of transformation. The microorganisms were able to transform thiophene in the absence of benzene at a zero-order rate. Thiophene was converted to five oxidation products, regardless of the presence of benzene. Benzene had no influence on the distribution of these oxidation products. The main oxidation product, a thiophene sulphoxide dimer, represented 78+/-12% of the transformed thiophene, while the second most important product, also a thiophene sulphoxide dimer, represented 20+/-2% of the converted thiophene. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.