Substrate depletion experiments were conducted to characterize aerobic biodegradation of 20 single polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) by induced Sphingomonas paucimobilis strain EPA505 in liquid suspensions. PAHs consisted of low molecular weight, unsubstituted, and methyl-substituted homologs. A material balance equation containing the Andrews kinetic model, an extension of the Monod model accounting for substrate inhibition, was numerically fitted to batch depletion data to estimate extant kinetic parameters including the maximal specific uptake rates, qmax, the affinity coefficients, KS, and the substrate inhibition coefficients, KI. Strain EPA505 degraded all PAHs tested. Applied kinetic models adequately simulated experimental data. A cell proliferation assay involving reduction of the tetrazolium dye WST-1 was used to evaluate the ability of strain EPA505 to utilize individual PAHs as sole energy and carbon sources. Of the 22 PAHs tested, 9 supported bacterial growth. Evaluation of the biokinetic data showed that qmax correlated highly with transmembrane flux as theoretically estimated by a diffusion model, pointing to transmembrane transport as a potential rate-determining process. The biodegradability data generated in this study is essential for the development of quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSARs) for biodegradability and for modeling biodegradation of simple PAH mixtures. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2007;97: 922–932. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.