Oxidation of acenaphthene, acenaphthylene, and fluorene was examined with recombinant strain Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1(pRE695) expressing naphthalene dioxygenase genes cloned from plasmid NAH7. Acenaphthene underwent monooxygenation to 1-acenaphthenol with subsequent conversion to 1-acenaphthenone and cis- and trans-acenaphthene-1,2-diols, while acenaphthylene was dioxygenated to give cis-acenaphthene-1,2-diol. Nonspecific dehydrogenase activities present in the host strain led to the conversion of both of the acenaphthene-1,2-diols to 1,2-acenaphthoquinone. The latter was oxidized spontaneously to naphthalene-1,8-dicarboxylic acid. No aromatic ring dioxygenation products were detected from acenaphthene and acenaphthylene. Mixed monooxygenase and dioxygenase actions of naphthalene dioxygenase on fluorene yielded products of benzylic 9-monooxygenation, aromatic ring dioxygenation, or both. The action of naphthalene dioxygenase on a variety of methyl-substituted aromatic compounds, including 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene and isomers of dimethylnaphthalene, resulted in the formation of benzylic alcohols, i.e., methyl group monooxygenation products, which were subsequently converted to the corresponding carboxylic acids by dehydrogenase(s) in the host strain. Benzylic monooxygenation of methyl groups was strongly predominant over aromatic ring dioxygenation and essentially nonspecific with respect to the substitution pattern of the aromatic substrates. In addition to monooxygenating benzylic methyl and methylene groups, naphthalene dioxygenase behaved as a sulfoxygenase, catalyzing monooxygenation of the sulfur heteroatom of 3-methylbenzothiophene.