Anthropogenic forces, such as petroleum spills and the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, have caused an accumulation of petroleum hydrocarbons in the environment. The accumulation of petroleum and its derivatives now constitutes an important environmental problem. Biocatalysis introduces new ways to improve the development of bioremediation strategies. The recent application of molecular tools to biocatalysis may improve bioprospecting research, enzyme yield recovery, and enzyme specificity, thus increasing cost-benefit ratios. Enzymatic remediation is a valuable alternative as it can be easier to work with than whole organisms, especially in extreme environments. Furthermore, the use of free enzymes avoids the release of exotic or genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the environment. © 2011 R. S. Peixoto et al.