We use bioreactor and viscometric studies to examine the mechanism by which three additives, fetal bovine serum (FBS), pluronic F68, and polyethylene glycol (PEG), protect the freely suspend CRL-8018 cells from damage due to interactions with bubbles in agitated bioreactors. In bioreactor studies, the protective effect of an addictive could be due to either changes in the ability of the cell resist shear (biological mechanism) or to changes in the medium properties that effect the level or frequency of forces experienced by the cells (physical mechanism). Bioreactor studies show that protection by all three addictives occurs whether the cells are grown in the presence of the addictives (long exposure) or the addictives are added to medium after the cells were exposed to detrimental agitation intensity (short exposure). In the viscometric studies, exposure of cells to laminar shear in the absence of gas-liquid interfaces assesses only the ability of the cells to resist a constant level of shear in a medium with or without an additive. Viscometric studies show that prolonged exposure to FBS makes the cells more shera tolerant, but that short (30–120 min) exposure to FBS does not affect their shear tolerance. We thus conclude that the protective effect of FBS in bioreactors id of both physical and biological nature. The biological contribution is metabolic in nature rather than fast acting. Viscometric studies show that either long or short exposure of the cells to either F68 or PEG does not make the cells more shear tolerant. WE therefore conclude that the protective effect of F68 and PEG does not make the cells more shear tolerant. We therefore conclude that the protective effect of F68 and PEG in bioreactors is physical in nature.