The dechlorination and destruction of 2,4,6-trichlorophenol (TCP) and pentachlorophenol (PCP) under basic condition using hydrogen peroxide as the oxidant catalyzed by molybdate ions have been studied. Under ambient conditions of temperature and pressure, more than 95% of millimolar solutions of TCP and PCP can be converted to CO2 and CO, chlorinated and nonchlorinated carboxylic acid in 40 min. Up to 2.4 chloride ions per TCP and 3.5 chloride ions per PCP were released. TOC measurements indicated that 18% and 11% of the carbon was mineralized for TCP and PCP respectively after an hour of reaction. The results of ESR measurements suggested that the reaction possibly proceeded via the pathway with singlet oxygen.