The potential for bioremediating polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the major constituents of creosote, will depend on the response of the sediment bacterial community. The microbial community in sediments from a creosote-polluted freshwater lake was studied. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of PAH contamination on the sediment bacterial community. Sediment samples were taken at selected sites around the lake and upstream at an unpolluted site. Samples were analyzed for selected PAH concentrations. The numbers of aerobic heterotrophic bacteria isolated after growth on peptone yeast extract agar, peptone yeast extract with added creosote agar, and a minimal media with added creosote agar were determined for each site. The response of different bacterial physiological types to PAH contamination in sediment ecosystems was assessed through the use of a gel-stabilized model system. It was apparent that the PAH contamination had a marked effect on the bacterial community of these freshwater sediments. Such effects may influence the cycling of nutrients within sediments, e.g., the nitrogen and sulfur cycle, and the potential for in situ bioremediation.