Actinomycete strains isolated from 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT)-contaminated and uncontaminated environments were compared for TNT tolerance and abilities to transform TNT. Regardless of previous TNT exposure history, no significant differences in TNT tolerance were seen among strains. Selected strains did not significantly mineralize [14C]TNT. The actinomycetes did, however, transform TNT into reduced intermediates. The data indicate that, in actinomycete-rich aerobic environments like composts, actinomycetes will transform TNT into intermediates which are known to form recalcitrant polymers.