Decolorization and inhibition kinetic characteristics of two azo dyes namely Reactive Black 5 (RB 5) and Direct Brown 2 (DB 2) were investigated with partially granulated anaerobic mixed culture using glucose (3000 mg l(-1) COD) as carbon source and electron donor during batch incubation. Monod, zero-, first-, and second-order reaction kinetic models were tested in order to determine the most suitable rate model of substrate and color removal kinetic. The course of the decolorization and substrate removal process approximates to first-order kinetic model under batch conditions. Decolorization, and substrate removal were achieved effectively under test conditions but ultimate removal of azo dyes and substrate were not observed at high dye concentrations. Aromatic amine and volatile fatty acid accumulation were observed proportionally at a higher azo dye concentration. A competitive kinetic model that describes the anaerobic co-metabolism of increasing RB 5 and DB 2 dye concentrations with glucose as co-substrate has been developed based on the experimental data. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.