Cellulose has been used in two-chamber microbial fuel cells (MFCs), but power densities were low. Higher power densities can be achieved in air-cathode MFCs using an inoculum from a two-chamber, aqueous-cathode microbial electrolysis cell (MEC). Air-cathode MFCs with this inoculum produced maximum power densities of 1070mWm-2 (cathode surface area) in single-chamber and 880mWm-2 in two-chamber MFCs. Coulombic efficiencies ranged from 25% to 50%, and COD removals were 50-70% based on total cellulose removals of 60-80%. Decreasing the reactor volume from 26 to 14mL (while maintaining constant electrode spacing) decreased power output by 66% (from 526 to 180mWm-2) due to a reduction in total mass of cellulose added. These results demonstrate that air-cathode MFCs can produce high power densities with cellulose following proper acclimation of the inoculum, and that organic loading rates are important for maximizing power densities from particulate substrates. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.