Calorimetric and respirometric studies of cultured cells show that both neoplastic and non-neoplastic cell types maintain an anaerobic contribution to their total heat flux. In many mammalian cells this can be explained quantitatively by lactate production observed under fully aerobic conditions. Uncoupling and enhanced futile substrate cycling increase the ratio of heat flux to oxygen flux, the calorimetric-respirometric (CR) ratio. The interpretation of calorimetric and respirometric measurements requires an energy balance approach in which experimentally measured CR ratios are compared with thermochemically derived oxycaloric equivalents. The oxycaloric equivalent is the enthalpy change per mole of oxygen consumed, and equals -470 kJ/mol O2 in the aerobic catabolism of glucose, assuming that catabolism is 100% dissipative (the net efficiency of metabolic heat transformation is zero). CR ratios more negative than -470 kJ/mol O2 have been reported in well-oxygenated cell cultures and are discussed in terms of integrated aerobic and anaerobic metabolism.