The reductive dechlorination of trichloroethene (TCE) in a TCE source zone can be self-inhibited by TCE toxicity. A study was set up to examine the toxicity of TCE in terms of species specific degradation kinetics and microbial growth and to evaluate models that describe this self-inhibition. A batch experiment was performed using the TCE dechlorinating KB-1 culture at initial TCE concentrations ranging from 0.04 mM to saturation (8.4 mM). Biodegradation activity was highest at 0.3 mM TCE and no activity was found at concentrations from 4 to 8 mM. Species specific TCE and cis-DCE (cis-dichloroethene) degradation rates and Dehalococcoides numbers were modeled with Monod kinetics combined with either Haldane inhibition or a log-logistic dose-response inhibition on these rates. The log-logistic toxicity model appeared the most appropriate model and predicts that the species specific degradation activities are reduced by a factor 2 at about 1 mM TCE, respectively cis-DCE. However, the model showed that the inhibitive effects on the time for TCE to ethene degradation are a complex function of degradation kinetics and the initial cell densities of the clechlorinating species. Our analysis suggests that the self-inhibition on biodegradation cannot be predicted by a single concentration threshold without information on the cell densities. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.