Although microbial growth on substrate mixtures is commonly encountered in bioremediation, wastewater treatment, and fermentation, mathematical modeling of mixed substrate kinetics has been limited. We report the kinetics of Pseudomonas putida F1 growing on benzene, toluene, phenol, and their mixtures, and compare mathematical models to describe these results. The three aromatics are each able to act as carbon and energy sources for this strain. Biodegradation rates were measured in batch cultivations following a protocol that eliminated mass transfer limitations for the volatile substrates and considered the culture history of the inoculum and the initial substrate to inoculum mass ratio. Toluene and benzene were better growth substrates than phenol, resulting in faster growth and higher yield coefficients. In the concentration ranges tested, toluene and benzene biodegradation kinetics were well described by the Monod model. The Monod model was also used to characterize phenol biodegradation by P. putida F1, although a small degree of substrate inhibition was noted. In mixture experiments, the rate of consumption of one substrate was found to be affected by the presence of the others, although the degree of influence varied widely. The substrates are catabolized by the same enzymatic pathway, but purely competitive enzyme kinetics did not capture the substrate interactions well. Toluene significantly inhibited the biodegradation rate of both of the other substrates, and benzene slowed the consumption of phenol (but not of toluene). Phenol had little effect on the biodegradation of either toluene or benzene. Of the models tested, a sum kinetics with interaction parameters (SKIP) model provided the best description of the paired substrate results. This model, with parameters determined from one- and two-substrate experiments, provided an excellent prediction of the biodegradation kinetics for the three-component mixture. Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.