The Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus cereus is a facultative anaerobe that is still poorly characterized metabolically. In this study, the aerobic vegetative growth and anaerobic vegetative growth of the food-borne pathogen B. cereus F4430/73 strain were compared with those of the genome-sequenced ATCC14579 strain using glucose and glycerol as fermentative and nonfermentative carbon sources, respectively. Uncontrolled batch cultures on several defined media showed that B. cereus strains had high amino acid or pyruvate requirements for anaerobic fermentative growth. In addition, growth performance was considerably improved by maintaining the pH of the culture medium near neutrality. Spectra of fermentation by-products were typically (per mole of glucose) 0.2-0.4 acetate, 1.1-1.4 L-lactate, 0.3-0.4 formate, and 0.05-0.2 ethanol with only traces of succinate, pyruvate, and 2,3-butanediol. These spectra were drastically changed in the presence of 20 mmol nitrate x L(-1), which stimulated anaerobic growth. During anaerobic and aerobic respiration, the persistent production of acetate and other by-products indicated overflow metabolisms. This was especially true in glucose-grown cells for which respiratory complex III made only a minor contribution to growth. Surprisingly, oxygen uptake rates linked to the cytochrome c and quinol branches of the respiratory chain were maintained at high levels in anaerobic, respiring, or fermenting cells. Growth and metabolic features of B. cereus F4430/73 are discussed using biochemical and genomic data.