The effects of Ni(II), substrate and initial biomass concentrations on biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) were studied by using an electrolytic respirometer. The effects of Ni(II) (2.5, 5.0, 10.0, 25.0 mg/l) and substrate (325, 650, 1300 mg/l as chemical oxygen demand) in a synthetic wastewater with differing initial biomass concentrations (1, 10, 100 mg/l) were investigated. The biomass-to-metal ratio was found to be the most important parameter affecting the measured BOD values. The maximum specific growth rates were calculated and the results of batch respirometric experiments were analysed both by graphical and statistical methods. In statistical analyses, a factorial experimental design approach was followed and results were treated by multiple regression techniques. A mathematical model was developed to express the maximum oxygen uptake in terms of nickel, substrate and initial biomass concentrations and their magnitudes of their effects were compared. The biomass-to-metal ratio was found to be very significant so that another model that expresses oxygen uptake in relation to the biomass-to-metal ratio and also to substrate concentration was developed. Finally, the effect of Ni(II) was demonstrated to depend on both substrate and initial biomass concentrations. This effect was stimulatory at low concentrations of Ni(II). and complete inhibition was never observed even at the highest concentration of Ni(II) studied, which was 25.0 mg/l.