The applicability of a protein-free medium for the production of recombinant human interleukin-2 with baby hamster kidney cells in airlift bioreactors was investigated. For this purpose, a BHK-21 cell line, adapted to grow and produce in protein-free SMIF7 medium without forming spheroids in membrane-aerated bubble-free bioreactors, was used as the producer cell line. First, cultivation of the cells was established at a 20-L scale using an internal loop airlift bioreactor system. During the culturing process the medium formulation was optimized according to the specific requirements associated with cultivation of mammalian cells under protein-free conditions in a bubble-aerated system. The effects of the addition of an antifoam agent on growth, viability, productivity, metabolic rates, and release of lactate dehydrogenase were investigated. Although it was possible to establish cultivation and production at a 20-L scale without the use of antifoaming substances, the addition of 0.002% silicon-oil-based antifoaming reagent improved the cultivation system by completely preventing foam formation. This reduced the release of lactate dehydrogenase activity to the level found in bubble-free aerated stirred tank membrane bioreactors and led to a reduction in generation doubling times by about 5 h (17%). Using the optimized medium formulation, cells were cultivated at a 1000-L scale, resulting in a culture performance comparable to the 20-L airlift bioreactor. For comparison, cultivations with protein-containing SMIF7 medium were carried out at 20- and 1000-L scales. The application of protein supplements did not lead to a significant improvement in the cultivation conditions. The results were also compared with experiments performed in a bubble-free aerated stirred tank membrane bioreactor to evaluate the influence of bubbles on the investigated culture parameters. The data implied a higher metabolic activity of the cells in airlift bioreactors with a 150% higher glucose consumption rate. The results of this study clearly demonstrate the applicability of a protein-free chemically defined medium for the production of recombinant proteins with BHK cells in airlift bioreactors.