1. We determined the rate of release and microbial uptake of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) leached from three components (leaves, bark and twigs) of river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) forest litter originating from different parts of a floodplain and under different oxygen levels.2. Preliminary experiments showed that substantially more DOC was released from leaves than from bark or twigs; there was relatively little DOC release from coarse particulate matter or soil.3. Both the amount of DOC released from each litter component and the amount metabolized by the microbial community were independent of position on the flood-plain or amount of oxygen available to microbes.4. Although the bioavailability of DOC was independent of oxygen concentration, the microbial utilization of DOC under aerobic and anaerobic conditions differed. Under aerobic conditions, leaves were colonized by fungi, while bacteria were dominant under anoxic conditions.5. Phospholipid fatty acid profiles of the microbial communities growing on leaf extracts showed that different microbial communities developed in each oxygen concentration treatment suggesting that, irrespective of flood conditions, a microbial community will develop to utilize a significant proportion of the DOC leached from litter.