Steady-state stable isotope labelling provides a method for generating flux maps of the compartmented network of central metabolism in heterotrophic plant tissues. Theoretical analysis of the contribution of the vacuole to the regeneration of glucose by endogenous processes shows that numerical fitting of isotopomeric data will only generate an accurate map of the fluxes involving intracellular glucose if information is available on the labelling of both the cytosolic and vacuolar glucose pools. In the absence of this information many of the calculated fluxes are at best unreliable or at worst indeterminate. This result suggests that the anomalously high rates of sucrose cycling and glucose resynthesis that have been reported in earlier steady-state analyses of tissues labelled with (13)C-glucose precursors may be an artefact of assuming that the labelling pattern of extracted glucose reflected the labelling of the cytosolic pool. The analysis emphasises that although subcellular information can sometimes be deduced from a steady-state analysis without recourse to subcellular fractionation, the success of this procedure depends critically on the structure of the metabolic network. It is concluded that methods need to be implemented that will allow measurement of the subcellular labelling pattern of glucose and other metabolites, as part of the routine analysis of the redistribution of label in steady-state stable isotope labelling experiments, if the true potential of network flux analysis for generating metabolic phenotypes is to be realized.