Burkholderia (Pseudomonas) cepacia G4 was cultivated in a fed-batch bioreactor on either toluene or toluene plus trichloroethylene (TCE). The culture was allowed to reach a constant cell density under conditions in which the amount of toluene supplied equals the maintenance energy demand of the culture. Compared with toluene only, the presence of TCE at a toluene/TCE ratio of 2.3 caused a fourfold increase in the specific maintenance requirement for toluene from 22 to 94 nmol mg of cells (dry weight)-1 h- 1. During a period of 3 weeks, approximately 65% of the incoming TCE was stably converted to unidentified products from which all three chlorine atoms were liberated. When toluene was subsequently omitted from the culture feed while TCE addition continued, mutants which were no longer able to grow on toluene or to degrade TCE appeared. These mutants were also unable to grow on phenol or m- or o-cresol but were still able to grow on catechol and benzoate. Plasmid analysis showed that the mutants had lost the plasmid involved in toluene monooxygenase formation (pTOM). Thus, although strain G4 is much less sensitive to TCE toxicity than methanotrophs, deleterious effects may still occur, namely, an increased maintenance energy demand in the presence of toluene and plasmid loss when no toluene is added.