Recombinant Escherichia coli (ATCC:PTA-1579) harbouring poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) synthesising genes from Streptomyces aureofaciens NRRL 2209 accumulates PHB. Effects of different carbon and nitrogen sources on PHB accumulation by recombinant E. coli were studied. Among the carbon sources used glycerol, glucose, palm oil and ethanol supported PHB accumulation. No PHB accumulated in recombinant cells when sucrose or molasses were used as carbon source. Yeast extract, peptone, a combination of yeast extract and peptone, and corn steep liquor were used as nitrogen sources. The maximum PHB accumulation (60% of cell dry weight) was measured after 48 h of cell growth at 37 degrees C in a medium with glycerol as the sole carbon source, and yeast extract and peptone as nitrogen sources. Scanning electron microscopy of the PHB granules isolated from recombinant E. coli revealed these to be spherical in shape with a diameter ranging from 0.11 to 0.35 pm with the mean value of 0.23 +/- 0.06 pm.