Bacteria of the genus Hydrogenomonas, which are widely distributed in soil, have in common the ability to grow autotrophically by oxidizing hydrogen with simultaneous reduction of carbon dioxide, and heterotrophically on common nutrient media. A survey of the literature shows that this ability is due to a specific hydrogen activating enzyme system, a hydrogenase. Apparently in most species this enzyme has a typically adaptive character to such a degree that cells grown in the absence of hydrogen as a rule do not produce it in measurable quantities. Also the ability to produce the hydrogenase under suitable conditions may be lost. Experimental studies were conducted to investigate the behavior of Hydrogenomonas carboxydovorans in this respect, and in addition, to determine whether or not the ability to oxidize CO should be considered an adaptive property. The stock culture was maintained in a mineral medium with an atmosphere of 80% CO and 20% O/sub 2/. Ways in which the culture conditions influenced the behavior of resting cells of H. carboxydovorans in the presence of H, CO, and lactate were investigated. Also studied was what would happen, if either H or CO were offered to the bacteria simultaneously with lactate.