Abstract Fullerene (C60) is a nanoparticle that has been widely studied and applied in numerous commodities. However, there are concerns regarding its potential negative impact on the environment. A fullerene colloidal suspension (nC60) is known for its property of selectively inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. In this study, using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis fingerprinting technology, we found that fullerene altered the structure of a sludge-derived microbial community. Specifically, the bacteria from Bacillus, Acidovorax and Cloacibacterium genera were enriched in abundance when supplemented with nC60 at pH 6.5 under aerobic conditions. The effects of the fullerene colloidal suspension on a strain of Bacillus isolated from the same microbial community were evaluated to further characterize the growth-stimulating effect of nC60. The biomass of cultures of this strain incubated with nC60 concentrations ranging from 3mgL−1 to 7mgL−1 was approximately twice that of the control during the stationary phase. The fullerene also induced higher superoxide dismutase activity in Bacillus cereus. Furthermore, the nitrate removal rate of B. cereus increased to nearly 55% in the presence of 5mgL−1 nC60, compared to 35% for the control. Meanwhile, the cumulative loading amount of nitrite was reduced from 33μgmL−1 to 25μgmL−1 by the addition of 5mgL−1 nC60. Our results demonstrate that the fullerene colloidal suspension is conditionally capable of promoting the growth and denitrification metabolism of certain bacteria, such as B. cereus. Fullerene might have both inhibitory and stimulatory effects on microorganisms in various environments.