Microorganisms oxidize many aromatic compounds through the dihydroxylated intermediates catechol and protocatechuate and through the beta-ketoadipate pathway. The catabolic sequences used by the yeast Rhodotorula graminis for the dissimilation of aromatic compounds were elucidated after biochemical analysis of pleiotropically negative mutant strains. Growth properties of one mutant strain revealed that benzoate-4-hydroxylase was required for the utilization of phenylalanine, mandelate, and benzoate. Analysis of benzoate-4-hydroxylase- and p-hydroxybenzoate hydroxylase-deficient mutants provided genetic evidence that benzoate was hydroxylated in the para position forming p-hydroxybenzoate. Enzyme assays and growth studies with wild-type and mutant strains of R. graminis indicated that separate and highly specific hydroxylases oxidized p-hydroxybenzoate and m-hydroxybenzoate to protocatechuate. Examination of a protocatechuate 3,4-dioxygenase-deficient mutant demonstrated the role of the protocatechuate branch of the eucaryotic beta-ketoadipate pathway for the utilization of phenylalanine, mandelate, benzoate, and m-hydroxybenzoate. Salicylate, on the other hand, was shown to be metabolized through catechol. Thus, R. graminis differs from other yeasts such as Trichosporon cutaneum and Rhodotorula mucilaginosa in that it contains both branches of the beta-ketodipate pathway.