A laboratory sediment microcosm called the ecocore is described. It has been used to test the biodegradability of substances which predominantly enter the sediment. A new method for introducing hydrophobic test substances such as hydrocarbons to the test system is also described. In a series of tests using 14C-labelled hydrocarbons, it has been demonstrated that evolved and trapped 14C02 in all probability reflects the rates of mineralization of the test substance. The fate of the substances within the test system has been described and the total recovery exceeds 80%. The system shows good biological stability in longterm experiments.