The thermophilic aerobic bacterium Bacillus thermoleovorans Hamburg 2 grows at 60 degrees C on naphthalene as the sole source of carbon and energy. In batch cultures, an effective substrate degradation was observed. The carbon balance, including naphthalene, metabolites, biomass, and CO(2), was determined by the application of [1-(13)C]naphthalene. The incorporation of naphthalene-derived carbon into the bulk biomass as well as into specified biomass fractions such as fatty acids and amino acids was confirmed by coupled gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and isotope analyses. Metabolites were characterized by GC-MS; the established structures allow tracing the degradation pathway under thermophilic conditions. Apart from typical metabolites of naphthalene degradation known from mesophiles, intermediates such as 2, 3-dihydroxynaphthalene, 2-carboxycinnamic acid, and phthalic and benzoic acid were identified for the pathway of this bacterium. These compounds indicate that naphthalene degradation by the thermophilic B. thermoleovorans differs from the known pathways found for mesophilic bacteria.