We studied recovery of poly(3-hydroxybutyric acid) (PHB) from Alcaligenes eutrophus and a recombinant Escherichia coli strain harboring the A. eutrophus poly(3-hydroxyalkanoic acid) biosynthesis genes. The amount of PHB degraded to a lower-molecular-weight compound in A. eutrophus during the recovery process was significant when sodium hypochlorite was used, but the amount degraded in the recombinant E. coli strain was negligible. However, there was no difference between the two microorganisms in the patterns of molecular weight change when PHB was recovered by using dispersions of a sodium hypochlorite solution and chloroform. To understand these findings, we examined purified PHB and lyophilized cells containing PHB by using a differential scanning calorimeter, a thermogravimetric analyzer, and nuclear magnetic resonance. The results of our analysis of lyophilized whole cells containing PHB with the differential scanning calorimeter suggested that the PHB granules in the recombinant E. coli strain were crystalline, while most of the PHB in A. eutrophus was in a mobile amorphous state. The stability of the native PHB in the recombinant E. coli strain during sodium hypochlorite treatment seemed to be due to its crystalline morphology. In addition, as determined by the thermogravimetric analyzer study, lyophilized cell powder of the recombinant E. coli strain containing PHB exhibited greater thermal stability than purified PHB obtained by chloroform extraction. The PHB preparations extracted from the two microorganisms had identical polymer properties.