Several strains of bacteria, isolated from marine environments, were characterized for their hydrocarbon oxidizing abilities using a complex synthetic mixture of hydrocarbons. Attempts were made at a broad classification of these organisms on the basis of their behavior towards four major groups of hydrocarbons, normal paraffins, iso-paraffins, cyclo-paraffins, and aromatics, known to be present in crude oils. Although bacteria appear to be able to oxidize hydrocarbons at random, this study has shown that it may be possible to recognize a rudimental pattern if we view their oxidative abilities in terms of groups of hydrocarbons rather than individual compounds. A study of the action of combined strains on the synthetic hydrocarbon mixture was performed. It was found that no particular benefit could be derived as compared to the use of single strains.