During growth of Escherichia coli ML308 on pyruvate in a continuous culture (turbidostat) or batch culture, flux of carbon into the cells exceeds the amphibolic capacity of the central pathways. This is balanced by diversion of carbon flux to acetate excretion which in turn diminishes the efficiency of carbon conversion to biomass [g] dry wt (mol substrate)-1]. However, restriction of carbon supply in a chemostat diminishes flux to acetate excretion and at a dilution rate (D = mu) of 0.35 h-1 or less, no flux to acetate excretion was sustained thus permitting perfect balance between carbon input on the one hand, and the output to biosynthesis and energy generation on the other. This, in turn, improves the efficiency of carbon conversion to biomass. Inclusion of 3-bromopyruvate (an inhibitor of pyruvate dehydrogenase) at a concentration which diminishes growth rate (mu) to 0.35 h-1 or less also prevented flux to acetate excretion. Furthermore, in a family of fluoroacetate-resistant strains, excessive flux of pyruvate was balanced by diversion of carbon flux to lactate excretion rather than acetate and a higher growth rate (mu = 0.63 h-1) was sustained.