Dichloroacetic acid (DCAA) is produced during the oxidation of trichloroethylene. It is also produced in drinking water treatment as a disinfection by-product. DCAA is a problem material, because of its toxicity. The objective of this research is to find the final products and the reaction pathway of the DCAA decomposition by hydrolysis, and to increase the hydrolysis rate. The removal of both chlorine atoms in DCAA structure was achieved with hydrolysis at around 75 degreesC, and the final products were oxalic acid and glycolic acid. The reaction pathway was the production of oxalic acid and glycolic acid from two glyoxylic acid molecules by Cannizzaro reaction after the glyoxylic acid production from dechlorination of DCAA with hydrolysis. The hydrolysis rate of DCAA was increased with the use of 90% ethanol solution as solvent. The activation energy of DCAA was about 80 kJ/mol in it, while it was around 105 kJ/mol in water. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.