AQA A Level Biology

Revision Notes

5.2.2 The Stages of Aerobic Respiration

The Four Stages in Aerobic Respiration

  • Glucose is the main respiratory substrate used by cells
  • Aerobic respiration is the process of breaking down a respiratory substrate in order to produce ATP using oxygen
  • The process of aerobic respiration using glucose can be split into four stages
  • Each stage occurs at a particular location in a eukaryotic cell:
    • Glycolysis takes place in the cell cytoplasm
    • The Link reaction takes place in the matrix of the mitochondria
    • The Krebs cycle takes place in the matrix of the mitochondria
    • Oxidative phosphorylation occurs at the inner membrane of the mitochondria

Four Stages of Respiration Table

Four Stages of Respiration Table, downloadable AS & A Level Biology revision notes

Exam Tip

It’s important to know the exact locations of each stage. It is not enough to say the Krebs cycle takes place in the mitochondria, you need to say it takes place in the matrix of the mitochondria.


Alistair graduated from Oxford University in 2014 with a degree in Biological Sciences. He has taught GCSE/IGCSE Biology, as well as Biology and Environmental Systems & Societies for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. While teaching in Oxford, Alistair completed his MA Education as Head of Department for Environmental Systems and Societies.

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