Six known compatible solutes as well as twenty L-amino acids were individually added to a glucose minimal medium and their effects on the growth of Sulfolobus solfataricus (DSM 1617) were examined. Among the compatible solutes tested, putrescine, trehalose, and L-glutamate enhanced the growth of S. solfataricus. On the other hand, glycine betaine, choline, and L-proline show-ed little or no influence on cell growth. When cells were grown in the glucose medium supplemented with trehalose or L-glutamate, S. solfataricus preferentially utilized the compatible solute over glucose. The growth-enhancement effect of L-glutamate was also observed to be dependent on the glucose concentration in the medium: growth enhancement was higher when the concentration of glucose was low and gradually decreased with increasing glucose concentration. Interestingly, the effects of amino acids on cell growth differed markedly depending on the chemical nature of the amino acid added. While acidic amino acids-L-glutamate and L-aspartate-enhanced the growth rate, almost no growth was observed in the presence of glycine, L-leucine, L-valine, L-phenylalanine, L-threonine, L-methionine, or L-cysteine. Among all the low-molecular-weight solutes tested in this study, the growth-stimulation effect was most profound in the presence of L-glutamate. When S, solfataricus cells were grown in a glucose (1.0 g/l) medium supplemented with 3.0 g/l L-glutamate, the maximal cell density and growth rate were about 3.2- and 2.3-fold higher than those obtained without L-glutamate.