Effluents from textile preparation, dyeing, and finishing processes contain high concentrations of biologically difficult-to-degrade or even inert auxiliaries. Under these circumstances, it most often becomes inevitable to apply energy-intense and hence "imperative" treatment technologies (so-called advanced oxidation processes, AOPs) to achieve an acceptable reduction in the organic content of the effluent, thereby improving the biocompatibility of the originally refractory wastewater. The present experimental study focused on three problematic dyehouse effluent streams in order to alleviate the problem of toxicity and recalcitrance arising from the use of certain textile chemicals at source. For that purpose, the textile preparation stage was simulated by a nonionic surfactant (NS), the polyamide dyeing stage by a synthetic tannin (syntan; ST), and an aqueous biocidal finishing (BF) solution was employed to mimic typical textile finishing effluent. Synthetic effluent streams bearing NS, ST, or BF were subjected to treatment with different, well-established AOPs (ozonation at varying pH; advanced oxidation with H2O2/UV-C at varying H2O2 concentrations) in order to degrade the active ingredients of the auxiliary formulations, thereby eliminating their toxicity and recalcitrance. Baseline experiments were conducted in order to optimize AOP conditions that were consecutively applied to observe changes in the originally poor effluent biodegradability and high toxicity. Obtained experimental findings revealed that (i) the COD content of NS could be reduced by at least 50% after H2O2/UV-C treatment at pH 9.0 accompanied by a nearly twofold improvement in its already fair biodegradability; (ii) the inhibitory effect of the biochemically reluctant ST on heterotrophic biomass was completely eliminated upon ozonation (dose = 900 mg h(-1)) at pH 3.5; and (iii) the microbial toxicity exerted by BF totally disappeared after ozonation (dose = 600 mgh(-1)) at pH 7.2. However, the achievement of detoxification and/or biodegradability improvement was accompanied with high electrical energy requirements. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.