The addition of the non-ionic surfactant, Pluronic F-68, to serum-free CHO cultures causes multi-functional effects that enhance cell yield in agitated cultures and reduce cell adhesion in stationary cultures. Three independent CHO cell lines were subjected to high liquid shear in assay systems that either included or excluded a liquid–gas interface. In the absence of Pluronic, there was a loss in cell viability in either assay system, although there was an intrinsic variability in sensitivity of the cell lines to shear damage. Supplementation with Pluronic prevented loss of cell viability, indicating protection in either a gas sparged or bubble-free environment. However, we found no evidence of long-term protection of cells once Pluronic was removed. Pluronic was capable of repairing trypsin-damaged cells as evidenced by enhanced growth, reduced membrane porosity, and improved robustness under liquid shear. The proportion of adherent cells was reduced to a minimal level by the presence of Pluronic although its effect was rapidly reversible with a high proportion (70%) of adherent cells observed within a few culture passages of its removal. The observed effects of Pluronic on these cultures are compatible with a mechanism in which the polymer forms a protective layer on the cell membrane, which has a significantly lower hydrophobicity.