A comprehensive evaluation of four different textile wastewaters was carried out to set the experimental basis for the modelling of activated sludge process. Experiments involved beside conventional characterization, detailed COD fractionation and assessment of major kinetic and stoichiometric coefficients by means of respirometric measurements. A multi-component model based on the endogenous decay concept was used for the kinetic interpretation and design of activated sludge. The fate and variation of major process components affecting effluent quality with the sludge age were evaluated by means of model simulations. (C) 1998 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.