The rheological behavior of rapidly sheared bubble suspensions is examined through numerical simulations and kinetic theory. The limiting case of spherical bubbles at large Reynolds number Re and small Weber number We is examined in detail. Here, Re=rho gamma alpha(2)/mu and We=rho gamma(2) alpha(3)/s, a being the bubble radius, gamma the imposed shear, s the interfacial tension, and mu and rho, respectively, the viscosity and density of the liquid. The bubbles are assumed to undergo elastic bounces when they come into contact; coalescence can be prevented in practice by addition of salt or surface-active impurities. The numerical simulations account for the interactions among bubbles which are assumed to be dominated by the potential flow of the liquid caused by the motion of the bubbles and the shear-induced collision of the bubbles. A kinetic theory based on Grad's moment method is used to predict the distribution function for the bubble velocities and the stress in the suspension. The hydrodynamic interactions are incorporated in this theory only through their influence on the virtual mass and viscous dissipation in the suspension. It is shown that this theory provides reasonable predictions for the bubble-phase pressure and viscosity determined from simulations including the detailed potential flow interactions. A striking result of this study is that the variance of the bubble velocity can become large compared with (gamma alpha)(2) in the limit of large Reynolds number. This implies that the disperse-phase pressure and viscosity associated with the fluctuating motion of the bubbles is quite significant. To determine whether this prediction is reasonable even in the presence of nonlinear drag forces induced by bubble deformation, we perform simulations in which the bubbles are subject to an empirical drag law and show that the bubble velocity variance can be as large as 15 gamma(2) alpha(2). (C) 1997 American Institute of Physics.