A new member of the family of growth models described by Baranyi et al. (1993a) is introduced in which the physiological state of the cells is represented by a single variable. The duration of lag is determined by the value of that variable at inoculation and by the post-inoculation environment. When the subculturing procedure is standardized, as occurs in laboratory experiments leading to models, the physiological state of the inoculum is relatively constant and independent of subsequent growth conditions. It is shown that, with cells with the same pre-inoculation history, the product of the lag parameter and the maximum specific growth rate is a simple transformation of the initial physiological state. An important consequence is that it is sufficient to estimate this constant product and to determine how the environmental factors define the specific growth rate without modelling the environment dependence of the lag separately. Assuming that the specific growth rate follows the environmental changes instantaneously, the new model can also describe the bacterial growth in an environment where the factors, such as temperature, pH and aw, change with time.