A mineral medium, containing 1% (w/v) glucose as the main carbon source, was subjected to one-phase and to two-phase anaerobic digestion processes under comparable conditions. The one-phase system consisted of an anaerobic up-flow reactor containing both acidogenic as well as methanogenic populations. The two-phase system consisted of an acid reactor and a methane reactor connected in series allowing sequential acidogenesis and methanogenesis of the glucose. After maximum turnover rates of glucose had been attained in both systems, by gradually increasing feed supply rate, both systems were switched to the batch mode and subjected to shock loadings with glucose or fatty acids. Maximum specific turnover rates of fatty acids in the one-phase process averaged 0.39 g chemical oxygen demand (COD)-g biomass/sup -1/ d/sup -1/ and 2.23 g g/sup -1/ d/sup -1/ for the methane reactor of the two-phase system. Charging the one-phase system with doses of glucose resulted mainly in an accumulation of propionate which was degraded relatively slowly. It was concluded that interspecies hydrogen transfer may become rate limiting at high loading rates, stimulating formation of propionate. Therefore a two-phase system, as compared with a one-phase digestion process for easily hydrolyzable carbohyrates, was characterized as being essentially the more stable.