The on-line determination of the physiological state of a cell culture process requires reliable on-line measurements of various parameters and calculations of specific rates from these measurements. The cell concentration of a hybridoma culture was estimated on-line by measuring optical density (OD) with a laser turbidity probe. The oxygen uptake rate (OUR) was determined by monitoring dynamically dissolved oxygen concentration profiles and closing oxygen balances in the culture. The base addition for neutralizing lactate produced by cells was also monitored on-line via a balance. Using OD and OUR measurements, the specific growth and specific oxygen consumption rates were determined on-line. By combining predetermined stoichiometric relationships among oxygen and glucose consumption and lactate production, the specific glucose consumption and lactate production rates were also calculated on-line. Using these on-line measurements and calculations, the hybridoma culture process was characterized on-line by identifying the physiological states. They will also facilitate the implementation of nutrient feeding strategies for fed-batch and perfusion cultures. © 1994 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.