The manufacture of secreted proteins is complicated by the need for both high levels of expression and appropriate processing of the nascent polypeptide. For glycoproteins, such as erythropoietin (EPO), posttranslational processing involves the addition of oligosaccharide chains. We initially noted that a subset of the amino acids present in the cell culture media had become depleted by cellular metabolism during the last harvest cycle in our batch fed system and hypothesized that by supplementing these nutrients we would improve EPO yields. By increasing the concentration of these amino acids we increased recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) biosynthesis in the last harvest cycle as expected but, surprisingly, we also observed a large increase in the amount of rHuEPO with a relatively low sialic acid content. To understand the nature of this process we isolated and characterized the lower sialylated rHuEPO pool. Decreased sialylation correlated with an increase in N-linked carbohydrates missing terminal galactose moieties, suggesting that beta-1,4-galactosyltransferase may be rate limiting in our system. To test this hypothesis we supplemented our cultures with varying concentrations of manganese (Mn(2+)), a cofactor for beta-1,4-galactosyltransferase. Consistent with our hypothesis we found that Mn(2+) addition improved galactosylation and greatly reduced the amount of rHuEPO in the lower sialylated fraction. Additionally, we found that Mn(2+) addition increased carbohydrate site occupancy and narrowed carbohydrate branching to bi-antennary structures in these lower sialylated pools. Surprisingly Mn(2+) only had this effect late in the culture process. These data indicate that the addition of Mn(2+) has complex effects on stressed batch fed cultures.