The cascade of reactive nitrogen species generated from nitric oxide causes modification of proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids in a wide range of organisms. 3-Nitrotyrosine is one of the most common products of the action of reactive nitrogen species on proteins. Although a great deal is known about the formation of 3-nitrotyrosine, the subsequent metabolism of this compound is a mystery. Variovorax paradoxus JS171 and Burkholderia sp. strain JS165 were isolated from soil slurries when 3-nitrotyrosine was provided as the sole carbon, nitrogen, and energy source. During growth on 3-nitrotyrosine stoichiometric amounts of nitrite were released along with approximately one-half of the theoretically available ammonia. The catabolic pathway involving oxidative denitration is distinct from the pathway for tyrosine metabolism. The facile isolation and the specific, regulated pathway for 3-nitrotyrosine degradation in natural ecosystems suggest that there is a significant flux of 3-nitrotyrosine in such environments.