Toluene dioxygenase, a multicomponent enzyme system known to oxidize mononuclear aromatic hydrocarbons to cis-dihydrodiols, oxidized indene and indan to 1-indenol and 1-indanol, respectively. In addition, the enzyme catalyzed dioxygen addition to the nonaromatic double bond of indene to form cis-1,2-indandiol. The oxygen atoms in 1-indenol and cis-1,2-indandiol were shown to be derived from molecular oxygen, whereas 70% of the oxygen in 1-indanol was derived from water. All of the isolated products were optically active as demonstrated by 19F NMR and HPLC discrimination of diastereomeric esters and by chiroptic methods. The high optical purity of (-)-(1R)-indanol (84% enantiomeric excess) and the failure of scavengers of reactive oxygen species to inhibit the monooxygenation reaction supported the contention that the monooxygen insertion is mediated by an active-site process. Experiments with 3-[2H]indene indicated that equilibration between C-1 and C-3 occurred prior to the formation of the carbon-oxygen bond to yield 1-indenol. Naphthalene dioxygenase also oxidized indan to 1-indanol, which suggested that benzylic monoxygenation may be typical of this group of dioxygenases.