Bioaccumulation of hydrophobic organic chemicals from sediments containing soot or sootlike materials has been hypothesized to be limited by strong sorption of the chemicals to the soot matrixes. To test this hypothesis, we quantified bioaccumulation of 11 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the aquatic oligochaete Limnodrilus sp. exposed to spiked sediment with and without the sootlike materials coal and charcoal. In addition, sorption experiments with sediment containing varying amounts of coal or charcoal were performed to elucidate the accumulation mechanism. Results showed that coal and charcoal (at realistic levels of 1.5% on a dry-wt basis) reduced PCB accumulation in worms 1.2 to 8.5 times when expressed on a mass basis. Moreover, whereas bioaccumulation from pure sediment increased with molecular planarity of the PCBs (toxic potency), it decreased in case of sediments containing coal and charcoal. In contrast to this advantageous effect, it was hypothesized that coal and charcoal had an adverse influence on the habitat quality of oligochaetes: Organisms inhabiting sediment containing coal or charcoal had significantly reduced lipid contents as compared to organisms from pure sediment. Because of these reduced lipid contents, lipid-normalized PCB concentrations in worms and biota-to-sediment accumulation factors (BSAFs) for most PCBs were higher in sediments containing the sootlike materials as compared to those for reference sediment. Also, measured BSAFs for coal- and charcoal-containing sediments appeared to be much higher than estimated on the basis of equilibrium partitioning theory. Sorption experiments revealed that this was caused by much weaker sorption to the sediment-coal/charcoal mixture than calculated assuming linear additivity of sorption capacities of the distinct phases. It was hypothesized that this weaker sorption resulted from competition between PCBs and dissolved organic carbon molecules for sorption sites on coal/charcoal. This points to a sorption process that is much more complicated than generally assumed.