Degradability, particularly biodegradability, is one of the most important factors governing the persistence of pollutants in the environment and consequently influencing their behavior and toxicity in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The need for reliable persistence data in order to assess the environmental fate and hazard of chemicals by means of predictive approaches, is evident. Biodegradability tests are requested by the EEC directive on new chemicals. Neverthless, degradation tests are not easy to carry out and data on existing chemicals are very scarce. Therefore, assessing the fate of chemicals in the environment from the simple study of their structure would be a useful tool. Rates of degradation are a function of the rates of a series of processes. Correlation between degradation rates and structural parameters are will be facilitated if one of the processes is rate determining. This review is a survey of studies dealing with relationships between structure and biodegradation of organic chemicals, to identify the value and limitations of this approach.