Microbial reductive dechlorination of trichloroethene (TCE) and perchloroethene (PCE) in the vicinity of their dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) has been shown to accelerate DNAPL dissolution. A three-layer diffusion-cell was developed to quantify this bio-enhanced dissolution and to measure the conditions near the DNAPL interface. The 12 cm long diffusion-cell setup consists of a 5.5 cm central porous layer (sand), a lower 3.5 cm DNAPL layer and a top 3 cm water layer. The water layer is frequently refreshed to remove chloroethenes at the upper boundary of the porous layer, while the DNAPL layer maintains the saturated chloroethene concentration at the lower boundary. Two abiotic and two biotic diffusion-cells with TCE DNAPL were tested. In the abiotic diffusion-cells, a linear steady state TCE concentration profile between the DNAPL and the water layer developed beyond 21 d. In the biotic diffusion-cells, TCE was completely converted into cis-dichloroethene (cis-DCE) at 2.5 cm distance of the DNAPL Dechlorination was likely inhibited up to a distance of 1.5 cm from the DNAPL, as in this part the TCE concentration exceeded the culture's maximum tolerable concentration (2.5 mM). The DNAPL dissolution fluxes were calculated from the TCE concentration gradient, measured at the interface of the DNAPL layer and the porous layer. Biotic fluxes were a factor 2.4 (standard deviation 0.2) larger than abiotic dissolution fluxes. This diffusion-cell setup can be used to study the factors affecting the bio-enhanced dissolution of DNAPL and to assess bioaugmentation, pH buffer addition and donor delivery strategies for source zones. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.