p-Nitrophenol (PNP) is common in the wastewater from many chemical industries. In this study, we investigated the effect of initial concentrations of PNP and glucose and applied voltage on PNP reduction in biocathode BESs and open-circuit biocathode BESs (OC-BES). The PNP degradation efficiency of a biocathode BES with 0.5 V (Bioc-0.5) reached 99.5 ± 0.8%, which was higher than the degradation efficiency of the BES with 0 V (Bioc-0) (62.4 ± 4.5%) and the OC-BES (59.2 ± 12.5%). The PNP degradation rate constant (kPNP) of Bioc-0.5 was 0.13 ± 0.01 h-1, which was higher than the kPNP of Bioc-0 (0.024 ± 0.002 h-1) and OC-BES (0.013 ± 0.0005 h-1). PNP degradation depended on the initial concentrations of glucose and PNP. A glucose concentration of 0.5 g L-1 was best for PNP degradation. The initial PNP increased from 50 to 130 mg L-1 and the kPNP decreased from 0.093 ± 0.008 to 0.027 ± 0.001 h-1. High-throughput sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons indicated differences in microbial community structure between BESs with different voltages and the OC-BES. The predominant populations were affiliated with Streptococcus (42.7%) and Citrobacter (54.1%) in biocathode biofilms of BESs, and Dysgonomonas were the predominant microorganisms in biocathode biofilms of OC-BESs. The predominant populations were different among the cathode biofilms and the suspensions. These results demonstrated that applied voltage and biocathode biofilms play important roles in PNP degradation.