We investigated the potential of soil moisture and nutrient amendments to enhance the biodegradation of oil in the soils from an ecologically unique semi-arid island. This was achieved using a series of controlled laboratory incubations where moisture or nutrient levels were experimentally manipulated. Respired CO2 increased sharply with moisture amendment reflecting the severe moisture limitation of these porous and semi-arid soils. The greatest levels of CO2 respiration were generally obtained with a soil pore water saturation of 50-70%. Biodegradation in these nutrient poor soils was also promoted by the moderate addition of a nitrogen fertiliser. Increased biodegradation was greater at the lowest amendment rate (100 mg N kg(-1) soil) than the higher levels (500 or 1,000 mg N kg(-1) soil), suggesting the higher application rates may introduce N toxicity. Addition of phosphorous alone had little effect, but a combined 500 mg N and 200 mg P kg(-1) soil amendment led to a synergistic increase in CO2 respiration (3.0x), suggesting P can limit the biodegradation of hydrocarbons following exogenous N amendment.