The ability of microorganisms to degrade trace levels of the hydrochlorofluorocarbons HCFC-21 and HCFC-123 was investigated. Methanotroph-linked oxidation of HCFC-21 was observed in aerobic soils, and anaerobic degradation of HCFC-21 occurred in freshwater and salt marsh sediments. Microbial degradation of HCFC-123 was observed in anoxic freshwater and salt marsh sediments, and the recovery of 1,1,1-trifluoro-2-chloroethane indicated the involvement of reductive dechlorination. No degradation of HCFC-123 was observed in aerobic soils. In some experiments, HCFCs were degraded at low (parts per billion) concentrations, raising the possibility that bacteria in nature remove HCFCs from the atmosphere.