The capacity to sustain the large fluxes of carbon and energy required for rapid metabolite production appears to be inversely related to the growth efficiency of micro-organisms. From an overall energetic point of view three main classes of metabolite may be distinguished. These are not discrete categories, as the energetics of biosynthesis will depend on the precise biochemical pathways used and the nature of the starting feed stock(s). (1) For metabolites like exopolysaccharides both the oxidation state and the specific rate of production appear to be inversely related to the growth efficiency of the producing organism. Maximum rates of production are favored when carbon and energy flux are integrated, and alteration of this balance may negatively effect production rates. (2) The production of metabolites like organic acids and some secondary metabolites results in the net production of reducing equivalents and/or ATP. It is thought that the capacity of the organism to dissipate this product-associated energy limits its capacity for rapid production. (3) For metabolites like biosurfactants and certain secondary metabolites that are composed of moieties of significantly different oxidation states production from a single carbon source is unfavorable and considerable improvements in specific production rate and final broth concentration may be achieved if mixed carbon sources are used. By careful selection of production organism and starting feedstock(s) it may be possible to tailor the production, such that the adverse physiological consequences of metabolite overproduction on the production organism are minimized.