The diet adaptation period is widely considered a critical period of time in which nutritional management practices can promote or impair subsequent performance and health. Performance studies indicate that adapting feedlot cattle with incremental increases in dietary concentrate, from approximately 55 to 90% of diet DM, in 14 d or less, while allowing ad libitum access to the diet, generally results in reduced performance during adaptation or over the entire feeding period. However, the number of cattle involved in these studies does not allow insight into the frequencies of metabolic disorders associated with the management practices tested. Adapting cattle by restricting the quantity of higher-concentrate diets offered shows promise for improving production efficiency, but further development is needed for application in commercial feedlots. Evidence suggests considerable diversity in the ability of animals to cope with ingested cereal grain, and indicates that diet adaptation procedures should affect the frequency of health-impaired or low-performing cattle in a pen. Individuals that seem to effectively regulate voluntary feed intake during adaptation generally display a steady increase in DMI as dietary concentrate is increased. These data also highlight a seemingly counterproductive, repeating cycle of overconsumption, followed by a pronounced reduction in ruminal pH, by cattle that appear to cope less favorably with grain adaptation. At least a portion of this diversity may relate to the maintenance of protozoal populations. Increases in amylolytic bacteria seemed to follow the increment of additional concentrate. Protozoa were most numerous when the diet contained approximately 60% concentrate, and lactate-utilizing bacteria increased more markedly when the diet contained more than approximately 70% concentrate. Available in vivo data suggest that the number of lactate-utilizing bacteria may reach a plateau for a given diet composition after 2 to 7 d, but thorough assessments of the time course of events using modern techniques are lacking. Further research is needed to characterize how the quantity and frequency of increases in cereal grain consumption, reflective of industry practices, impact microbial dynamics, and to identify the biological features that allow certain animals to adapt more readily to high-concentrate diets.