The extent of cometabolic bioregeneration of activated carbons loaded with 2-nitrophenol was investigated in lab-scale batch activated sludge reactors. Bioregeneration was quantified by measuring the deterioration in adsorption capacity of a fresh activated carbon after a pre-loading and a subsequent bioregeneration sequence. Activated carbons loaded with 2-nitrophenol could be partially bioregenerated cometabolically in the presence of phenol as the growth substrate. The occurrence of exoenzymatic bioregeneration was also possible during cometabolic bioregeneration of thermally activated carbon. However, cometabolic bioregeneration of chemically activated carbon was higher in accordance with higher desorbability. Rather than biodegradation, desorption was the rate-limiting step in bi-solute bioregeneration of phenol and 2-nitrophenol. The absence of oxidative coupling reactions leads to sufficient reversible adsorption, which eventually makes 2-nitrophenol an ideal compound in terms of bioregenerability. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.