A bacterial strain, named P4, isolated previously from microcosms containing oil-contaminated soil collected from an environmentally protected area of a tropical Atlantic forest (Biological Reserve of Poço das Antas) located in Brazil was identified as Dietzia cinnamea by morphological, biochemical and genotypic tests. Arabian Light and Marlin oils were both degraded when strain P4 was tested for oil degradation ability in microplates. Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH) analysis, determined by gas chromatography, showed that strain P4 degraded a wide range of n-alkanes, and also pristane and phytane. Furthermore, this strain was also able to grow in mineral liquid media amended with carbazole, quinoline, naphthalene, toluene, gasoline and diesel as the sole carbon sources. The species D. cinnamea has been previously described with only one representative strain isolated from a perianal swab of a patient with a bone marrow transplant. With the results presented here this species is implicated not only as a human pathogen but also as a potential strain for further studies concerning its role for bioremediation of oil contaminated soil. © 2006 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.