The pathway of degradation of nitrilotriacetate (NTA) was determined by using cell-free extracts and a 35-fold purification of NTA monooxygenase. The first step in the breakdown was an oxidative cleavage of the tertiary amine by the monooxygenase to form the aldo acid, glyoxylate, and the secondary amine, iminodiacetate (IDA). NTA N-oxide acted as a substrate analog for induction of the monooxygenase and was slowly metabolized by the enzyme, but was not an intermediate in the pathway. No intermediate before IDA was found, but an unstable alpha-hydroxy-NTA intermediate was postulated. IDA did undergo cleavage in the presence of the purified monooxygenase to give glyoxylate and glycine, but was not metabolized in cell-free extracts. Glyoxylate was further metabolized by cell-free extracts to yield CO2 and glycerate or glycine, products also found from NTA metabolism. Of the three bacterial isolates in which the NTA pathway has been studied, two strains, one isolated from a British soil and ours from a Michigan soil, appear to be almost identical.