Poly-(R)-3-hydroxybutyric acid (PHB) was synthesized anaerobically in recombinant Escherichia coli. The host anaerobically accumulated PHB to more than 50% of its cell dry weight during cultivation in either growth or nongrowth medium. The maximum specific PHB production rate during growth-associated synthesis was approximately 2.3 ± 0.2 mmol of PHB/g of residual cell dry weight/h. The by-product secretion profiles differed significantly between the PHB-synthesizing strain and the control strain. PHB production decreased acetate accumulation for both growth and nongrowth-associated PHB synthesis. For instance under nongrowth cultivation, the PHB-synthesizing culture produced approximately 66% less acetate on a glucose yield basis as compared to a control culture. A theoretical biochemical network model was used to provide a rational basis to interpret the experimental results like the fermentation product secretion profiles and to study E. coli network capabilities under anaerobic conditions. For example, the maximum theoretical carbon yield for anaerobic PHB synthesis in E. coli is 0.8. The presented study is expected to be generally useful for analyzing, interpreting, and engineering cellular metabolisms.