The metabolic routes of substrate catabolism by intact cells of H. pylori have been investigated by 13C NMR. Real time analyses of metabolic transformations under anaerobic conditions have been obtained with dense cell suspensions incubated with 13C-labelled pyruvate and glucose. In addition, time point studies have been carried out with cells incubated under aerobic conditions. Anaerobically, pyruvate was rapidly metabolized to lactate, ethanol and acetate. In addition, alanine was produced in significant quantities by cells provided with a nitrogen source and the metabolic incorporation of nitrogen from urea was demonstrated. Under aerobic conditions acetate was the major oxidation product from pyruvate; no evidence was obtained for tricarboxylic acid cycle activity. Glucose was metabolized more slowly than pyruvate. Anaerobically, two major products were observed and identified as sorbitol and gluconate by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Evidence was obtained for the oxidation of glucose to acetate under aerobic conditions. The fate of the 13C label with glucose substrates labelled in different positions showed that this oxidation takes place via the Entner-Doudoroff pathway.