In 1975, the loss of approximately 83,000 gallons of JP-4 grade jet fuel resulted in contamination of the shallow aquifer near North Charleston, South Carolina. To identify those factors likely to influence microbial activity under denitrifying conditions, we examined the fate of amended NO3, the effect of pH, NO3, and PO4 on denitrification, and the variability of denitrification in sediments collected at the site. Denitrification (N2O-N production) accounted for 98% of the depletion of NO3-N under anaerobic conditions. Both carbon mineralization and denitrification rates increased asymptotically with increasing NO3 to a maximum at approximately 1 mM NO3. Addition of up to 1 mM PO4 did not significantly increase N2O and CO2 production. Denitrification rates were at least 38% lower at pH = 4 than observed at pH = 7. Comparison of samples with differing degrees of hydrocarbon contamination indicated that at least a tenfold variation in sediment denitrification occurs at the North Charleston site.