Abstract The effect of glycogen accumulation on buoyant density and volume of Escherichia coli K12 was studied. A procedure consisting of three linear equations is presented. This requires measurement only of three parameters: cell buoyant density, cell volume and specific content of the polymer. Experimental values are then used to calculate intercepts and slopes of the equations by linear regression. From the estimated values of such parameters the in vivo values of several variables of interest can be calculated. These include in vivo density and volume of the glycogen inclusion, as well as density and volume of the structural material in the cell. The results are consistent with the glycogen inclusions being hydrated.