A broad-spectrum mercury-resistant bacterial strain was isolated from contaminated water and was identified as Bacillus pasteurii strain DR2. It could volatilize Hg-compounds including organomercurials from its growth media. It utilized several aromatic compounds as a sole source of carbon. The bacterial strain eliminated HgCl2 from sterile river water and the presence of benzene, toluene, naphthalene and nitrobenzene at 1 mM concentration in the system increased the rate of mercury volatilization, the volatilization rate being highest with benzene. When 1.7 × 107 cells of this bacterial strain were added per ml of non-sterile water the bacterial strain volatilized more than 90 percent of mercury from mercuric chloride and organo-mercurials like PMA, thiomersol and methoxy ethyl mercuric chloride (MEMO). In the absence of this bacterial strain the volatilization of PMA and MEMO due to the presence of other Hg-resistant organisms in non-sterile polluted water ranged between 20-25 percent and of HgCl2 was about 40 percent. However, in the presence of B. pasteurii DR2 volatilization of these Hg-compounds from non-sterile water increased by 20-40 percent. In the presence of 1 mM benzene the rate of mercury volatilization was even higher. In all the cases the rate of volatilization was higher in the first seven days than in the next seven days. © 1996 Chapman & Hall.