Chlorinated hydrocarbons are widely used synthetic chemicals that are frequently present in industrial emissions. Bacterial degradation has been demonstrated for several components of this class of compounds. Structural features that affect the degradability include the number of chlorine atoms and the presence of oxygen substituents. Biological removal from waste streams of compounds that serve as a growth substrate can relatively easily be achieved. Substrates with more chlorine substituents can be converted cometabolically by oxidative routes. The microbiological principles that influence the biodegradability of chlorinated hydrocarbons are described. A number of factors that will determine the performance of microorganisms in systems for waste gas treatment is discussed. Pilot plant evaluations, including economics, of a biological trickling filter for the treatment of dichloromethane containing waste gas indicate that at least for this compound biological treatment is cost effective.