The effectiveness of refinery wastewater (RW) treatment using air-cathode, microbial fuel cells (MFCs) was examined relative to previous tests based on completely anaerobic microbial electrolysis cells (MECs). MFCs were configured with separator electrode assembly (SEA) or spaced electrode (SPA) configurations to measure power production and relative impacts of oxygen crossover on organics removal. The SEA configuration produced a higher maximum power density (280±6mW/m2; 16.3±0.4W/m3) than the SPA arrangement (255±2mW/m2) due to lower internal resistance. Power production in both configurations was lower than that obtained with the domestic wastewater (positive control) due to less favorable (more positive) anode potentials, indicating poorer biodegradability of the RW. MFCs with RW achieved up to 84% total COD removal, 73% soluble COD removal and 92% HBOD removal. These removals were higher than those previously obtained in mini-MEC tests, as oxygen crossover from the cathode enhanced degradation in MFCs compared to MECs. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.