To obtain a catalyst with good mechanical stress stability and other operational characteristics, cross-linked aggregates of whole Escherichia coli containing penicillin amidase were reinforced with surface modified precipitated silica and chitosan. The immobilized cells plus mixed fillers possess better performance characteristics i.e. higher stability at 4°C and 30°C, least protein leaching capacity and good settling characteristics. Most suitable conditions to prepare catalyst with mixed fillers were: chitosan, 0.3: silica, 0.2 g/g d.wt cell; and minimum moisture content in catalyst, 30% (w/w). © 1991 Chapman & Hall.