Examination of some previously isolated bile acid-utilizing Pseudomonas strains showed that Pseudomonas sp. ATCC 31752, together with other fluorescent strains, can be assigned to Pseudomonas putida biotype B, whereas Pseudomonas sp. ATCC 31753, like most other nonfluorescent strains, is an unrecognized phenotype. A study was made of the growth of these two species at 25 degrees C and pH 7.0 in a fermentor with 2.5 g of sodium cholate liter-1 as sole carbon source, and the catabolism of the cholate and its products was followed by high-pressure liquid chromatographic and thin-layer chromatographic examination. At aeration rates of either 150 or 5 ml min-1 liter-1, growth of each species followed the same catabolic pathway. 7 alpha, 12 beta-Dihydroxy-1,4-androstadiene-3,17-dione was the major catabolite formed, with 0.3 g liter-1 being the maximum concentration that accumulated at the higher aeration rate, whereas 1.4 g liter-1 accumulated at the lower aeration rate, irrespective of the species used. The latter yield is sufficiently high to be of potential commercial value if such a catabolite were found to be economically useful for steroid drug manufacture. It is postulated that the rate-limiting step in cholic acid catabolism by these species at the lower aeration rate is 9 alpha-hydroxylation, a step requiring molecular oxygen, hence, the marked effect of oxygen limitation on catabolite accumulation. Another consequence of oxygen limitation is the production of a red pigment in the culture medium, which, however, does not affect catabolite recovery.