The high surface charge of small ceramic particles such as alumina particles prevents them from dispersing evenly in aqueous suspensions and forming high-density compacts. However, suspensions of 400-nm-diameter alumina particles treated with alginate from the bacterium Azotobacter vinelandii were well dispersed. The alginate bound firmly to the particle surface and could not be removed by repeated washing with distilled water (2.82 mg of the bacterial alginate adsorbed to 1 g of the alumina particles). Furthermore, A. vinelandii grew and produced alginate in the presence of up to 15% (vol/vol) alumina particles. These results suggest that an in situ process using this bacterium to coat ceramic particles with alginate might be developed. In in situ processing experiments, the particle-packing densities were significantly increased and the viscosities of 5 and 10% (vol/vol) suspensions were reduced 4- and 60-fold, respectively, over those of controls. The bacteria were readily removed from the alumina particles by washing.