The contribution of protein induction and repression to the adaptation of cells to changes in oxygen supply is only poorly understood. We assessed this contribution by measuring the levels of 170 individual polypeptides produced by Escherichia coli K-12 in cells growing aerobically or anaerobically with and without nitrate. Eighteen reached their highest levels during anaerobic growth. These 18 polypeptides include at least 4 glycolytic enzymes and pyruvate formate-lyase (beta-subunit). Most of these proteins were found at significant levels during aerobic growth and appeared to undergo metabolic regulation by stimuli other than anaerobiosis. Anaerobic induction ratios ranged from 1.8- to 11-fold, and nitrate antagonized the anaerobic induction of all of the proteins except one. The time course of synthesis of the proteins after shifts in oxygen supply revealed at least three distinct temporal patterns. These results are discussed in light of known physiological alterations associated with changes in oxygen availability.