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The aim of this study was to isolate, characterize and evaluate the importance of naphthalene-degrading bacterial strains from oil-contaminated tropical marine sediments.Three Gram-positive naphthalene-degrading bacteria were isolated from oil-contaminated tropical intertidal marine sediments by direct isolation or enrichment using naphthalene as the sole source of carbon and energy. Bacillus naphthovorans strain MN-003 can also grow on benzene, toluene, xylene and diesel fuel while Micrococcus sp. str. MN-006 can also grow on benzene. Staphylococcus sp. str. MN-005 can only degrade naphthalene and was not able to use the other aromatic hydrocarbons tested. Strain MN-003 possessed the highest maximal specific growth rate with naphthalene as sole carbon source. An enrichment culture fed with naphthalene as sole carbon source exhibited a significant increase in the relative abundances of the three isolates after 21 days of incubation. The three isolates constituted greater than 69% of the culturable naphthalene-degrading microbial community. Strain MN-003 outcompeted and dominated the other two isolates in competition studies involving batch cultures inoculated with equal cell densities of the three isolates and incubated with between 1 and 10 mg l−1 of naphthalene.Three Gram-positive naphthalene-degrading bacteria were successfully isolated from oil-contaminated tropical marine sediments. Gram-positive bacteria might play an important role in naphthalene degradation in the highly variable environment of oil-contaminated tropical intertidal marine sediments. Among the three isolates, strain MN-003 has the highest maximal specific growth rate when grown on naphthalene, and outgrew the other two isolates in competition experiments.This research will aid in the development of bioremediation schemes for oil-contaminated marine environments. Strain MN-003 could potentially be exploited in such schemes.