Metabolic flux analysis is a useful tool for unraveling relationships between metabolism and cell function. Material balancing can be used to provide estimates of major metabolic pathway fluxes, provided all significant metabolite uptake and production rates are measured. Potential sources of metabolizable material in many serum-free media formulations are low molecular weight digests of biological material such as yeast extracts and plant or animal tissue hydrolysates. These digests typically contain large amounts of peptides, which may be utilized as amino acids. This article demonstrates the need for accounting for amino acids liberated from peptides in order to accurately estimate pathway fluxes in Chinese hamster ovary cells grown in a complex (hydrolysate containing) medium. A simplified model of central carbon metabolism provides the framework for analyzing external metabolite measurements. Redundant measurements are included to ensure the consistency of data and assumed biochemistry by comparing redundant measurements with their predicted values from a minimum data set, and by expressing the degree of agreement using a statistical “consistency index.” The consistency index tests whether redundancies are satisfied within expected experimental error. For chemostat steady states of CHO cultures grown in a hydrolysate-supplemented medium, consistent data were obtained only when amino acids liberated from peptides were taken into account. © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Biotechnol Bioeng 62: 324–335, 1999.