Three strains of strictly aerobic, Gram-negative, naphthalene-degrading bacteria isolated from polychlorinated-dioxin-contaminated soil and sediment were characterized. These isolates grew well with naphthalene as the sole carbon and energy source, degrading it completely within 24 h of incubation. The isolates also degraded dibenzofuran co-metabolically in the presence of naphthalene with the concomitant production of yellow intermediate metabolite(s). A 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis revealed that the isolates affiliated to the genus Novosphingobium with Novosphingobium pentaromativorans and Novosphingobium subarcticum as their nearest phylogenetic neighbors (97.4-97.5% similarity). The isolates had a genomic DNA G+C ratio of 64.5-64.6 mol% and formed a genetically coherent group distinguishable from any established species of the genus Novosphingobium at a DNA-DNA hybridization level of less than 46%. The cellular fatty acids were characterized by the predominance of 18 : 1omega7c with significant proportions of 16 : 0, 16 : 1omega7c, 17 : 1omega6c and 2-OH 14 : 0. Sphingoglycolipids were present. The major respiratory quinone was ubiquinone-10. Spermidine was detected as the major polyamine. The distinct taxonomic position of the isolates within the Novosphingobium was also demonstrated by physiological and biochemical testing. Based on these phylogenetic and phenotypic data, we propose Novosphingobium naphthalenivorans sp. nov. to accommodate the novel isolates. The type strain is strain TUT562(T) (DSM 18518(T), JCM 13951(T), NBRC 102051(T)).