The field of bacterial metabolism and physiology is arguably the oldest in microbiology. Much of our understanding of biological processes and molecular paradigms has its roots In early studies of prokaryotic physiology. After a period of declining interest in metabolic studies (prompted by the insurgence of molecular techniques), genomic technologies are revitalizing the study of bacterial metabolism and physiology. These new technologies bring a means to approach metabolic questions with a global perspective. When used in combination with classical and molecular techniques, emerging global technologies will make it feasible to understand the complex integration of metabolic processes that result in an efficient physiology. At the same time, without increased computational capabilities, the massive amounts of data generated by these technologies threaten to overwhelm, rather than facilitate, this work. For genomic technologies to reach their potential for increasing our understanding of bacterial metabolism, microbiologists must become more collaborative and multidisciplinary than at any time in our history.