The study emphasizes wastewater characteristics of two different textile plants as they apply to biological treatment. Although conventional characterization reveals no major differences, the effluents from the acrylic fiber and yarn dyeing plant exhibit all the properties of a non-biodegradable wastewater. Appropriate pretreatment consisting of partial chemical oxidation with H2O2 reduces its COD content to 700 mg l(-1), almost entirely biodegradable whereas COD fractionation indicates that the effluents of the cotton knit dyeing plant contain 9% residual fractions. Experimental investigation shows that most kinetic and stoichiometric properties of both wastewaters are compatible with that of domestic sewage with the exception of a much slower hydrolysis rate. (C) 1999 IAWQ Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.