Escherichia coli is a metabolically versatile bacterium that is able to grow in the presence and absence of oxygen. Several previous transcript-profiling experiments have compared separate anaerobic and aerobic cultures. Here the process of adaptation was investigated by determining changes in transcript profiles when anaerobic steady-state cultures were perturbed by the introduction of air. Within 5 min of culture aeration the abundances of transcripts associated with anaerobic metabolism were decreased, whereas transcripts associated with aerobic metabolism were increased. In addition to the rapid switch to aerobic central metabolism, transcript profiling, supported by experiments with relevant mutants, revealed transient changes suggesting that the peroxide stress response, methionine biosynthesis, and degradation of putrescine play important roles during the adaptation to aerobic conditions.