The glycosylation patterns of recombinant therapeutic glycoproteins can be engineered by overexpression of glycosyltransferases in the host cells used for glycoprotein production. Most prior glycosylation engineering experiments have involved constitutive expression of cloned glycosyltransferases. Here we use tetracycline-regulated expression of two glycosyltransferases, N-acetylglucosaminlytransferases III and V (GnTIII and GnTV) to manipulate glycoform biosynthesis in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells and to study the effect of glycosyltransferase overexpression on this host. The amount of GnTIII and GnTV in these cells, and the glycosylation patterns of several cellular glycoproteins, could be controlled simply by manipulating the concentration of tetracycline in the culture medium. Using this system, it was found that overexpression of either GnTIII or GnTV to high levels led to growth inhibition and was toxic to the cells, indicating that this may be a general feature of glycosyltransferase overexpression. This phenomenon has not been reported previously, probably due to the widespread use of constitutive promoters, and should be taken into account when designing vectors for glycosylation engineering. The growth inhibition effect sets an upper limit to the level of glycosyltransferase overexpression, and may thereby also limit the maximum extent of in vivo modification of poorly accessible glycosylation sites. Also, such inhibition implies a bound on constitutive glycosyltransferase expression which can be cloned.