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Within the spectrum of current applications for cell culture technologies, efficient large-scale mammalian cell production processes are typically carried out in stirred fed-batch or perfusion bioreactors. The specific aspects of each individual process that can be considered when determining the method of choice are presented. A major challenge for perfusion reactor design and operation is the reliability of the cell retention device. Current retention systems include cross-flow membrane filters, spin-filters, inclined settlers, continuous centrifuges and ultrasonic separators. The relative merits and limitations of these technologies for cell retention and their suitability for large-scale perfusion are discussed.