Biodegradability of aqueous solutions of the herbicide alachlor and the fungicide pyrimethanil, partly treated by photo-Fenton, and the effect of photoreaction intermediates on growth and DOC removal kinetics of the bacteria Pseudomonas putida CECT 324 are demonstrated. Toxicity of 30-120 mg L(-1) alachlor and pyrimethanil has been assayed in P. putida. The biodegradability of photocatalytic intermediates found at different photo-treatment times was evaluated for each pesticide. At a selected time during batch-mode phototreatment, larger-scale biodegradation kinetics were analysed in a 12 L bubble column bioreactor. Both alachlor and pyrimethanil are non-toxic for P. putida CECT 324 at the test concentrations, but they are not biodegradable. A approximately 100 min photo-Fenton pre-treatment was enough to enhance biodegradability, the biological oxidation response being dependent on the pesticide tested. The different alachlor and pyrimethanil respiration and carbon uptake rates in pre-treated solutions are related to change in the growth kinetics of P. putida. Reproducible results have shown that P. putida could be a suitable microorganism for determining photo-Fenton pre-treatment time.