The combination of chemical and biological water treatment processes is a promising technique to reduce recalcitrant wastewater loads. The key to the efficiency of such a system is a better understanding of the mechanisms involved during the degradation processes. Ozonation has been applied to many fields in water and wastewater treatment. Especially for textile mill effluents ozonation can achieve high color removal, enhance biodegradability, destroy phenols and reduce the chemical oxygen demand (COD). However, little is known about the reaction intermediates and products formed during ozonation. This work deals with the degradation of hydrolyzed Reactive Yellow 84 (Color Index), a widely used azo dye in textile finishing processes with two monochlorotriazine anchor groups. Ozonation of the hydrolyzed dye in ultra pure water was performed in a laboratory scale cylindric batch reactor. Decolorization, determined by measuring the light absorbance at the maximum wavelength in the visible range (400 nm), was almost complete after 60 and 90 min with an ozone concentration of 18.5 and 9.1 mg/l, respectively. The TOC/TOC0 ratio after ozonation was about 30%, the COD was diminished to 50% of the initial value. The BOD5/COD ratio increased from 0.01 to about 0.8. Oxidation and cleavage of the azo group yield nitrate. Cleavage of the sulfonic acid groups of aromatic rings caused increases in the amount of sulfate. Formic acid and oxalic acid were identified as main oxidation products by high performance ion chromatography (HPIC). The concentrations of these major products were monitored at defined time intervals during ozonation, (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.