Recently, there has been an increasing interest in stoichiometric analysis of metabolic flux distributions. Flux balance methods only require information about metabolic reaction stoichiometry, metabolic requirements for growth, and the measurement of a few strain-specific parameters. This information determines the domain of stoichiometrically allowable flux distributions that may be taken to define a strain’s “metabolic genotype”. Within this domain a single flux distribution is sought based on assumed behavior, such as maximal growth rates. The optimal flux distributions are calculated using linear optimization and may be taken to represent the strain’s “metabolic phenotype” under the particular conditions. This flux balance methodology allows the quantitative interpretation of metabolic physiology, gives an interpretation of experimental data, provides a guide to metabolic engineering, enables optimal medium formulation, and provides a method for bioprocess optimization. This spectrum of applications, and its ease of use, makes the metabolic flux balance model a potentially valuable approach for the design and optimization of bioprocesses.