Oxygen transport is a major limitation in large-scale mammalian cell culture. The effects of the dissolved oxygen concentration (DO; from 0.1 to 100% saturation with air) on Sp2/0-derived mouse hybridomas were investigated using continuous culture. The steady-state concentration of viable cells increased with decreasing DO until a critical dissolved oxygen concentration of 0.5% of air saturation was reached. The cell concentration declined at lower DO because of incomplete glutamine oxidation, and the specific lactate production from glucose increased to offset the reduced energy production from glutamine. Cell viability increased as the DO was decreased; the viability continued to increase even when the DO was reduced below 0.5%. The specific oxygen uptake rate was essentially constant for DO greater than or equal to 10% of air saturation and then decreased with decreasing DO. The P/O ratio (ATP molecules produced per O atom consumed) appears to change from 2 to 3 between 10 and 0.5% DO. The specific ATP production rate calculated using this assumption decreases only slightly with decreasing DO. The optimum DO of 50% for antibody production is different than the optimum (approximately 0.5% DO) for cell growth.