摘要如下：Although toxic and refractory organics, such as phenol and quinoline, are decomposed by anaerobic bacteria, the establishment of specific degrading consortia is a relatively slow process. An anaerobic membrane bioreactor allows for complete biomass retention that can aid the establishment of phenol- and quinoline-degrading consortia. In this study, the anaerobic digestion of phenol (500 mg L−1) and quinoline (50 mg L−1) was investigated using an anaerobic baffled ceramic membrane bioreactor (ABCMBR). The results showed that, within 30 days, 99% of phenol, 98% of quinoline and 88% of chemical oxygen demand (COD) were removed. The substrate utilisation rates of the cake layer for phenol and quinoline, and specific methanogenic activity of the cake layer, were 7.58 mg phenol g−1 mixed liquor volatile suspended solids (MLVSS) day−1, 8.23 mg quinoline g−1 MLVSS day−1 and 0.55 g CODCH4 g−1 MLVSS day−1, respectively. The contribution of the cake layer to the removals of phenol and quinoline was extremely underestimated because the uncounted scoured cake layer was disregarded. Syntrophus was the key population for phenol and quinoline degradation, and it was more abundant in the cake layer than in the bulk sludge. The highly active scattered cake layer sped up the establishment of phenol- and quinoline-degrading consortia in the ABCMBR.