A semicontinuous culture of the microbial community of the human large intestine that was maintained over 81 days is described. The initial inoculum was feces, and about 200 ml of nutrient suspension was fed to 500 ml of fermentor contents once or twice daily. The nutrient suspension contained comminuted fibrous food, sodium deoxycholate, urea, acid-hydrolyzed casein, vitamins, and salts. The fermentation was monitored, and the major products were acetate, propionate, butyrate, methane, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. The concentration of anaerobic bacteria was 2 X 10(9) per ml of culture contents and was 100 times that of fecal coliforms. When the nutrient suspension contained lettuce, celery, carrots, and unsweetened applesauce, the predominant nonsporeforming anaerobes isolated were Bacteroides species. When carrots and applesauce were omitted, the predominant nonsporeforming isolates were Fusobacterium species. On both diets, clostridia were isolated that resembled Clostridium clostridiiforme. The fermentation and bacteriological analyses indicated that the in vitro ecosystem appears to be a reasonable facsimile of the large intestine ecosystem.