Pseudomonas fluorescens biovar I was isolated from a pulp mill effluent based on its ability to grow on synthetic media containing 1,2-diarylethane structures as the sole carbon and energy source. Analysis of samples taken from cultures of this strain in benzoin or 4,4′-dimethoxybenzoin (anisoin), showed that cleavage between the two aliphatic carbons takes place prior to ring fission. Intermonomeric cleavage was also obtained with crude extracts. Substrates of this reaction were only those 1,2-diarylethane compounds that supported growth of the bacterium. The purification and partial characterization of an enzyme that catalyzes the NADH-dependent reduction of the carbonyl group of benzoin and anisoin is also reported.