Mouse L-929 cells were subjected to increasing concentrations of sorbitol, which remove cell water and reduce volume osmotically. The rate of lactate production from glucose was significantly higher in osmotically perturbed cells than in controls, both in monolayers and in suspensions. L cells can apparently use sorbitol as a glycolytic substrate; however, studies using other solutes (trehalose and sucrose) and permeabilized cells showed that the major effect of sorbitol on glycolysis in intact cells is mediated through a reduction in cell water content and volume. It is possible to explain some of these results by an increase in the chemical potentials of dissolved components of the glycolytic pathway caused by water loss; however, the relationship between water loss and glycolytic rate increase in not a simple linear one, suggesting that the situation is more complex than would result merely from increased concentrations of pathway components. Whatever the complete explanation might be, these studies show that glycolysis continues in an orderly fashion in cells that have lost about 85% of their original water content, suggesting that the operation of this pathway is not unduly sensitive to events taking place in the bulk aqueous phase.