The denitrifier Pseudomonas perfectomarina reduced nitrite under conditions of kinetic competition between cells and gas sparging for extracellular dissolved nitric and nitrous oxides, NOaq and N2Oaq, in a chemically defined marine medium. Time courses of nitrite reduction and NOg and N2Og alpha removal were integrated to give NOg and N2Og yields. At high sparging rates, the NOg yield was greater than 50% of nitrite-N reduced, and the yield of NOg + N2Og was approximately 75%. Hence interrupted denitrification yields NOaq and N2Oaq as major products. The yields varied with sparging rates in agreement with a quantitative model of denitrification (Betlach, M. P., and Tiedje, J.M. (1981) Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 42, 1074-1084) that applies simplified Michaelis-Menten kinetics to NO2-----NOaq----N2Oaq----N2. The fit gave an estimate of the maximum scavengeable NOaq yield of 73 +/- 8% of nitrite-N. Thus a minor path independent of NOaq is also required. The fit of the model to data at lower sparging rates, where normal denitrification products predominate, implies that the extracellular NOaq pool yield is independent of gas sparging rate. Thus in P. perfectomarina NOaq and N2Oaq are intermediates, or facilely equilibrate with true intermediates, during complete denitrification. The recovery of most nitrite-N as NO and/or N2O under perturbed conditions is not an artifact of irreversible product removal, but an attribute of denitrification in this species, and most probably it is characteristic of denitrification in other species as well.