There is currently considerable scientific interest in finding a chemical technique capable of predicting bioavailability; non-exhaustive extraction techniques (NEETs) offer such potential. Hydroxypropyl-beta-cyclodextrin (HPCD), a NEET, is further validated through the investigation of concentration ranges, differing soil types, and the presence of co-contaminants. This is the first study to demonstrate the utility of the HPCD-extraction technique to predict the microbial availability to phenanthrene across a wide concentration range and independent of soil-contaminant contact time (123 d). The efficacy of the HPCD-extraction technique for the estimation of PAH microbial availability in soil is demonstrated in the presence of co-contaminants that have been aged for the duration of the experiment together in the soil. Desorption dynamics are compared in co-contaminant and single-PAH contaminated spiked soils to demonstrate the occurrence of competitive displacement. Overall, a single HPCD-extraction technique proved accurate and reproducible for the estimation of PAH bioavailability from soil. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.