Hydrogen cyanide production by Pseudomonas aeruginosa growing in a synthetic medium required aerobosis but operated efficiently at low dissolved oxygen concentration. Half maximum levels of cyanogenesis occurred at 0.015 microM oxygen; maximum cyanogenesis occurred over a wide range, 0.1-180 microM, of oxygen concentrations. These cells lost the ability to produce cyanide upon aerobic incubation in the absence of both the carbon energy source (L-glutamate) and the metabolic precursor of hydrogen cyanide (glycine). This loss of cyanogenesis was dependent on oxygen concentration; 1.0 microM oxygen produced no detectable loss, whereas 180 microM oxygen caused a rapid decline in cyanogenic ability. The endogenous cyanide production rate of cells in the presence of carbon energy source was not significantly influenced by oxygen concentration. During the batch culture cycle, the acquisition of the ability to produce HCN was preceded by oxygen reduction to growth-limiting levels. Cells which had lost the ability to produce hydrogen cyanide by oxygen treatment required protein synthesis before they could again become cyanogenic.