The 31P high resolution NMR spectra of concentrated suspensions of Escherichia coli cells have been measured at 145.8 MHz. The position of the orthophosphate resonance is used as a measure of internal and external pH. In accord with Paddan, Zilberstein and Rottenberg ((1976) Eur. J. Biochem. 63, 533-541) it is shown that when properly energized the internal pH is 7.5 ± 0.1. By synchronizing the NMR data acquisition with 3-s bursts of O2 it is possible to measure the internal pH with a time resolution of about 1 s. It is shown that at 20°C the pH remains constant for times longer than 15 s after the oxygen is discontinued and it decays in several minutes.