Simulation modeling has been an integral, albeit ad hoc, component of the field of aquatic microbial ecology for the past two decades. One of the most critical steps in simulation modeling is the initial formulation of a clear set of questions and goals. It is doubtful that a single generic model could be constructed to address adequately all questions of interest concerning the microbial loop because of the tremendous range in time scales that define these questions. Progress in the field of aquatic microbial ecology will benefit from an integrated research program including experimental and modeling approaches. A submodel of bacterial utilization of various qualities of organic matter that we have under construction is presented. This submodel will be a component of a larger model to evaluate the effects of quality and quantity of organic matter and inorganic nutrient inputs on estuarine food web structure and efficiency. The overall model will be general enough in its structure that it should be applicable to a wide range of questions concerning the microbial loop, with time scales ranging from hours to days.