The effects of 2,4-dichlorophenol (2,4-DCP) on both acclimated and unacclimated activated sludge were investigated in batch reactors. The IC50 values on the basis of maximum specific growth rate (mu(m)), percent chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal efficiency and sludge activity were found to be 72, 60 and 47 mg l(-1), respectively, for unacclimated culture. The percent COD removal efficiencies of unacclimated culture were affected adversely, even at low concentrations, whereas culture acclimated to 75 mg 2,4-DCP l(-1) could tolerate about 200 mg 2,4-DCP l(-1) on the basis of COD removal efficiency. Although yield coefficient values of unacclimated culture increased surprisingly to very high values with the addition of 2,4-DCP, a linear decrease with respect to 2,4-DCP concentrations was observed for acclimated culture. Although no removal was observed with unacclimated culture, almost complete removal of 2,4-DCP up to a concentration of 148.7 mg l(-1) was observed with acclimated culture. It was showed that the culture could use 2,4-DCP as sole organic carbon source, although higher removal efficiencies in the presence of a readily degradable substrate were observed. Culture acclimated to 4-chlorophenol used 2,4-DCP as sole organic carbon source better than those acclimated to 2,4-DCP.