© 2015 Australian Mathematical Society This paper analyses the steady-state operation of a generalized bioreactor model that encompasses a continuous-flow bioreactor and an idealized continuous-flow membrane bioreactor as limiting cases. A biodegradation of organic materials is modelled using Contois growth kinetics. The bioreactor performance is analysed by finding the steady-state solutions of the model and determining their stability as a function of the dimensionless residence time. We show that an effective recycle parameter improves the performance of the bioreactor at moderate values of the dimensionless residence time. However, at sufficiently large values of the dimensionless residence time, the performance of the bioreactor is independent of the recycle ratio.