Transformed root cultures of Artemisia annua grown in autoclaved medium show large variations in biomass and artemisinin production regardless of the culture conditions or clonal type. However, using filter-sterilized sugars singly or in combination while holding the carbon level in the medium constant resulted in an unexpected variability in biomass production and artemisinin yield. Autoclaving results in variable hydrolysis of sucrose in the culture medium. Subsequent experiments using combinations of filter-sterilized sugars at a constant total carbon level in the medium showed a stimulation of artemisinin production by glucose. Growth in sucrose was equivalent to growth in fructose and significantly better than in glucose. These results suggest that sugars may be affecting terpenoid metabolism not only as carbon sources, but also as signal molecules.