Cultures of Microcoleus consortia polluted with two different types of crude oil, one with high content in aliphatic hydrocarbons (Casablanca) and the other rich in sulphur and aromatic compounds (Maya), were grown for 50 days and studied for changes in oil composition. No toxic effects from these oils were observed on Microcoleus consortia growth. In fact, the interface layer between the oils and the water culture medium proved to be the ideal site for consortia development, leading to a wrapping effect of the oil layers by these organisms. Despite this affinity of cyanobacteria for the oil substrate, the changes in oil composition were small. Microcoleus consortia did not induce transformation in the aliphatic-rich oil, and the modifications in the sulphur and aromatic-rich oil were small. The latter essentially involved degradation of aliphatic heterocyclic organo-sulphur compounds such as alkylthiolanes and alkylthianes. Other groups of compounds, such as the alkylated monocyclic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carbazoles, benzothiophenes and dibenzothiophenes, also underwent some degree of transformation, involving only the more volatile and less alkylated homologues. © Springer-Verlag 2004.