Oxidation of ferrous iron by Thiobacillus ferrooxidans cells passively immobilised in polyurethane foam particles, using both repeated batches and continuous operation, was studied in a laboratory-scale reactor. Repeated batches yielded complete oxidation at higher rates than single batches, providing resident inocula for subsequent batches. In continuous operation maximum ferric iron productivities were achieved at dilution rates well above theoretical washout values. At a dilution rate of 0.31 h−1 [approximately three times the maximum specific growth rate (μmax)], a productivity of 1.56 kg m−3 h−1, based on total ferric iron, or 1.0 kg m−3 h−1 based on dissolved ferric iron, was achieved. In addition, cells immobilised in the foam particles retained their oxidative ability for periods of up to 6 weeks when stored in the open air and could be reused immediately.