The inhibitory effects and removal efficiency of dieldrin (DLD) in anaerobic reactors were investigated. Anaerobic toxicity assay (ATA) experiments conducted in batch reactors revealed that 30 mg/l DLD had inhibitory effects on the unacclimated mixed anaerobic cultures. Continuous reactor experiments performed in a lab-scale two-stage upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor system which was fed with ethanol as the sole carbon source, indicated that anaerobic granular cultures could be successfully acclimated to DLD. Chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal efficiencies were 88-92% for the two-stage system. The influent DLD concentration of 10 mg/l was removed by 44-86% and 86-94% in the second stage and overall UASB system, respectively. Biosorption of DLD on granular anaerobic biomass was found to be a significant mechanism for DLD removal in the UASB system. The maximum DLD loading rate and minimum HRT achievable for the first stage UASB reactor were 0.5 mg/lday (76 microg DLD/g VSS.day) and 10 h, respectively, which resulted in the overall COD removal efficiency of 85%.