A mathematical model is proposed to analyze the mass transfer limitations in phenol biodegradation using Pseudomonas putida immobilized in calcium alginate. The model takes into account internal and external mass transfer limitations, substrate inhibition kinetics and the dependence of the effective diffusivity of phenol in alginate gel on cell concentration. The model is validated with the experimental data from batch fermentation. The effect of various operating conditions such as initial phenol concentration, initial cell loading, alginate gel loading on the biodegradation of phenol is experimentally demonstrated. Phenol degradation time is found to decrease initially and reach stationary value with increase in cell loading as well as gel loading. The model predicts these trends reasonably well and shows the presence of external mass transfer limitations. A new concept of effectiveness factor is introduced to analyze the overall performance of batch fermentation.