A process for the biochemical synthesis of polysaccharides comprises growing polysaccharide-producing bacteria of the genus Xanthomonas in a single stage continuous culture in a chemically-defined medium. The term chemically-defined medium denotes a culture medium wherein nutrients other than carbon are provided as inorganic salts or single organic compounds of known molecular structure rather than as complex naturally-derived mixtures. Normally the only organic component of the chemically-defined medium will be a conventional carbon source such as a carbohydrate, especially glucose, or glycerol. Preferably the medium should contain only one nitrogen source, since the use of multiple nitrogen sources, as present in complex media, appears to promote changes in the nature of the culture resulting in loss of polysaccharide production. 22 claims.