A novel type of bioreactor was successfully developed for the production of taxol and its precursors by culturing cells of Taxus cuspidata (Japanese yew) on a pilot-scale. Rapidly growing cell lines were selected from callus cultures derived from immature embryos of yew. The cells were inoculated in 20-l capacity bioreactors of different types to test the growth performance. The models of small-scale bioreactors incorporated in this study included a balloon-type bubble bioreactor (BTBB), a bubble-column bioreactor (BCB), a BCB with a split-plate internal loop, a BCB with a concentric draught-tube internal loop, a BCB with a fluidized bed bioreactor, and two different models of stirred tank reactors. Among the reactors, BTBB appeared to be the most efficient in promoting cell growth. The doubling time of cell growth in BTBB was 12 days with a 30% inoculation cell density. The optimum time for medium replacement or feeding was 12–15 days after inoculation as determined by monitoring both the levels of sugars and medium conductivity. When yew tree cells were grown in different sizes (100–500-l) of BTBBs, more than 70% cell viability was recorded at the time of harvest. The growth pattern of the cells in the pilot-scale BTBB appeared to be the same as that of cells in the 20-l bioreactors. Approximately 3 mg/l of taxol and 74 mg/l total taxanes were obtained after 27 days of culture.