The removal of chemical oxygen demand (COD) from wastewater-containing phenol was investigated using three-phase three-dimensional electrode reactor. Special attention was paid to experimentally probe the performance of the reactor in COD removal in the process of repeated batch runs. The experimental results showed that the reactor could remove COD from phenol-containing wastewater much more efficiently than both granulated activated carbon (GAC) adsorption bed and conventional three-dimensional electrode. For 200th batch run, the three-phase three-dimensional electrode reactor with an airflow of 5 1 min(-1) and a cell voltage of 30 V could remove 1350 ppm COD from the wastewater in 30 min while conventional three-dimensional electrode reactor with a same cell voltage and GAC adsorption bed with a same airflow only could remove 610 and 1000 ppm, respectively, at the same reaction duration. Although it was found that COD removal decreased with increasing repeated batch runs in our experimental range, due to adsorption saturation of GAC and electrode passivation, the extent of decrease for the three-phase three-dimensional electrode is much less than those for conventional three-dimensional electrodes and GAC adsorption beds. The passivated reactor could be partly re-activated by electrolysis in the presence of MnO2. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.