The white rot fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium metabolized phenanthrene when it was grown for 7 days at 37 degrees C in a medium containing malt extract, D-glucose, D-maltose, yeast extract, and Tween 80. After cultures were grown with [9-14C]phenanthrene, radioactive metabolites were extracted from the medium with ethyl acetate, separated by high-performance liquid chromatography, and detected by liquid scintillation counting. Metabolites from cultures grown with unlabeled phenanthrene were identified as phenanthrene trans-9,10-dihydrodiol, phenanthrene trans-3,4-dihydrodiol, 9-phenanthrol, 3-phenanthrol, 4-phenanthrol, and the novel conjugate 9-phenanthryl beta-D-glucopyranoside. Identification of the compounds was based on their UV absorption, mass, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectra. Since lignin peroxidase was not detected in the culture medium, these results suggest the involvement of monooxygenase and epoxide hydrolase activity in the initial oxidation and hydration of phenanthrene by P. chrysosporium.