The effect of acid cracking (pH 2.0; T 70 degrees C) and filtration as a pretreatment step on the chemical treatability of olive mill wastewater (chemical oxygen demand (COD) 150,000 m/L; total organic carbon (TOC) 36,000 mg/L; oil-grease 8,200 mg/L; total phenols 3,800 mg/L) was investigated. FeCl3 coagulation, Ca(OH)(2) precipitation, electrocoagulation using stainless steel electrodes and the Fenton's reagent were applied as chemical treatment methods. Removal performances were examined in terms of COD, TOC, oil-grease, total phenols, colour, suspended solids and acute toxicity with the photobacterium Vibrio fischeri. Significant oil-grease (95%) and suspended solids (96%) accompanied with 58% COD, 43% TOC, 39% total phenols and 80% colour removals were obtained by acid cracking-filtration pretreatment. Among the investigated chemical treatment processes, electrocoagulation and the Fenton's reagent were found more effective after pretreatment, especially in terms of total phenols removal. Total phenols removal increased from 39 to 72% when pretreatment was applied, while no significant additional (approximate to 10-15%) COD and TOC removals were obtained when acid cracking was coupled with chemical treatment. The acute toxicity of the original olive mill wastewater sample increased considerably after pretreatment from 75 to 89% (measured for the 10-fold diluted wastewater sample). An operating cost analysis was also performed for the selected chemical treatment processes.