Stability and performance features of linear PI compensation for continuous bioreactors are studied in this paper. First, it is established that conventional PI control can be represented as the combination of an I/O inverse dynamics feedback with a modeling error dynamic estimator. Then, the analysis of the closed-loop dynamics carried out with singular perturbation tools shows that PI control can recover the stability and performance induced by exact I/O inverse dynamics feedback controller. The theoretical results are illustrated via a typical numerical example. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.