Isolations of 3-chlorobenzoate (3CBA)-degrading aerobic bacteria under reduced O2 partial pressures yielded organisms which metabolized 3CBA via the gentisate or the protocatechuate pathway rather than via the catechol route. The 3CBA metabolism of one of these isolates, L6, which was identified as an Alcaligenes species, was studied in more detail. Resting-cell suspensions of L6 pregrown on 3CBA oxidized all known aromatic intermediates of both the gentisate and the protocatechuate pathways. Neither growth on nor respiration of catechol could be detected. Chloride production from 3CBA by L6 was strictly oxygen dependent. Cell-free extracts of 3CBA-grown L6 cells exhibited no catechol dioxygenase activity but possessed protocatechuate 3,4-dioxygenase, gentisate dioxygenase, and maleylpyruvate isomerase activities instead. In continuous culture with 3CBA as the sole growth substrate, strain L6 demonstrated an increased oxygen affinity with decreasing steady-state oxygen concentrations.