The effect of methane oxidation in aerobic sediment on oxygen consumption and phosphate flux was investigated in diffusion chambers. The diffusion chambers consisted of two compartments separated by a Teflon membrane. In the upper chamber a thin sediment layer was present and the lower chamber was continuously flushed with gas. The hydrophobic membrane allowed for diffusion of gases from the lower chamber through the sediment layer toward the headspace of the upper chamber. In experiments with a methane oxidation rate of 9.8 mmol m(-2) day(-1), the oxygen consumption rate increased by a factor of two compared with controls without methane oxidation (8.6 vs 17.7 mmol m(-2) day(-1)). Methane oxidation significantly decreased oxygen penetration depth (2.5-4.0 vs 1.0-2.0 mm). However, despite the shrinkage of the oxidized microlayer, no differences were found in phosphate flux across the sediment water interface. Batch experiments with standard additions of methane revealed that the growth of methanotrophic bacteria contributes to the phosphate uptake of aerobic sediment. From the batch experiments a molar ratio of carbon to phosphate of 45 mol:mol was calculated for the growth of methanotrophs. Results suggest that a decrease in chemical phosphate adsorption caused by a decrease in the oxygen penetration depth could be compensated for entirely by the growth of methanotrophic bacteria.