The selective lampricide 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM), maintained in the water at concentrations of 1 to 6 I?g/ml for several hours, kills larval sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) in tributaries of the Great Lakes. Because the fate of TFM in the environment is a matter of concern, the interactions of this chemical with river and lake sediments were studied in laboratory experiments. In mixtures of TFM, water, and sediment held in aquariums, the TFM decreased progressively and nearly or completely disappeared in 1 to 4 weeks; concentrations of the fluoride ion increased; and the systems became nontoxic for sea lamprey larvae and goldfish (Carassius auratus). If the reduction in TFM ceased before all of the chemical had disappeared, the process resumed when nutrient broth was added. Loss of TFM from the systems was prevented by the addition of an antiseptic (phenol) and by heat sterilization. Enrichment cultures of microorganisms isolated from stream and lake sediments degraded TFM in nutrient broths. I conclude that TFM is degraded by microorganisms that live in sediment-water systems.