Abstract The use of respirometric data for the evaluation of intrinsic biodegradation kinetic parameters for single organic compounds is discussed. Emphasis is placed on the preliminary assessment of the data set to determine whether it is suitable for kinetic parameter estimation. Careful preliminary examination of the data avoids attempting parameter estimation with unacceptable data. Furthermore, the use of unbiased respirometric data helps ensure that the estimated parameters truly reflect the intrinsic kinetics for biodegradation of a single substrate by the culture tested. Both experimental and theoretical oxygen uptake curves are used to illustrate how various conditions can limit the utility of a given data set. The effect of substrate inhibition, dual or multiple substrate limited growth, inaccuracies in the initial conditions assumed for curve fitting, and the use of poorly acclimated cultures are discussed. Techniques are presented which allow identification of whether a data set is unsuitable and should not be used for parameter estimation. In addition, experimental procedures which can help avoid the collection of aberrant data are discussed.