Formaldehyde biodegradation by a strain of Pseudomonas putida has been studied. The results indicate that this biodegradation is initiated by a dismutation reaction, yielding as products formic acid and methanol. The degradation of methanol and formic acid begins after exhaustion of formaldehyde in the medium, and presents a diauxic pattern: first formic acid is consumed followed by methanol. Moreover, cell viability, which is affected by the amount of added formaldehyde, has been determined. © 1990 Springer-Verlag.