This study characterized the transcript profile of Escherichia coli in acetate cultures using DNA microarray on glass slides. Glucose-grown cultures were used as a reference. At the 95% confidence level, 354 genes were up-regulated in acetate, while 370 genes were down-regulated compared with the glucose-grown culture. Generally, more metabolic genes were up-regulated in acetate than other gene groups, while genes involved in cell replication, transcription, and translation machinery tended to be down-regulated. It appears that E. coli commits more resources to metabolism at the expense of growth when cultured in the poor carbon source. The expression profile confirms many known features in acetate metabolism such as the induction of the glyoxylate pathway, tricarboxylic acid cycle, and gluconeogenic genes. It also provided many previously unknown features, including induction of malic enzymes, ppsA, and the glycolate pathway and repression of glycolytic and glucose phosphotransferase genes in acetate. The carbon flux delivered from the malic enzymes and PpsA in acetate was further confirmed by deletion mutations. In general, the gene expression profiles qualitatively agree with the metabolic flux changes and may serve as a predictor for gene function and metabolic flux distribution.