The biological degradation of volatile halogenated hydrocarbons (chlorocarbons (VCCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)) was investigated under simulated conditions of landfills in laboratory test digesters. Fully halogenated VCCs (tetrachloroethylene, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, tetrachloromethane and dichloromethane) and CFCs (trichlorofluoromethane (R11), dichlorodifluoromethane (R12) and 1,1,2-trichlorotrifluoroethane (R113)) were degraded under anaerobic conditions in addition to the methanogenic bacteria in municipal solid waste (MSW) and organic wastes. These substances showed different degradation reactions in the simulated acid and methanephases of MSW landfills. It is assumed that R11 and R113 could be decomposed completely under methanogenic conditions. Dichlorofluoromethane (R21) was observed as the reductive degradation product of R11 and was further degraded during the methanephase, but hardly at all under acid conditions. Chlorodifluoromerhane (R22) as a degradation product of R12 was not degraded, even not in the methanephase. In the acidphase, R11 was the only CFC to be dechlorinated, although only in small quantities. The degradation products of tetrachloroethylene differed under the various environmental conditions. In the acidphase, 1,1-dichloroethylene was detected as the only dichloroethylene, whereas in particular cis-1,2-dichloroethylene but also trans-1,2-dichloroethylene, 1,1-dichloroethylene and vinyl chloride could be detected as metabolites in the methanephase. Dichloromethane and chloroethane, as metabolites of 1,1,1-trichloroethane, could hardly be degraded at all in the acidphase. The degradation of VCCs and CFCs is largely independent of the substrate used. The investigations have demonstrated that the measured biodegradation rates (0.3-15 mg/m(3) (material vol)./h) cannot be improved considerably since they are limited by the inhibiting effect of the substances and their degradation products.