Cellular senescence is of growing interest due to its role in tumour suppression and its contribution to organismic ageing. This cellular state can be reached by replicative loss of telomeres or certain stresses in cell culture and is characterized by the termination of cell division; however, the cells remain metabolically active. To identify metabolites that are characteristic for senescent cells, extracts of human embryonic lung fibroblast (WI-38 cell line) have been investigated with NMR spectroscopy. Three different types of senescence have been characterized: replicative senescence, DNA damage-induced senescence (etoposide treatment) and oncogene-induced senescence (hyperactive RAF kinase). The metabolite pattern allows (I) discrimination of senescent and control cells and (II) discrimination of the three senescence types. Senescent cells show an increased ratio of glycerophosphocholine to phosphocholine independent from the type of senescence. The increase in glycerophosphocholine implicates a key role of phospholipid metabolism in cellular senescence. The observed changes in the choline metabolism are diametrically opposite to the well-known changes in choline metabolism of tumour cells. As tumours responding to chemotherapeutic agents show a " glycerophosphocholine-to-phosphocholine switch" i.e. an increase in glycerophosphocholine, our metabolic data suggests that these malignant cells enter a senescent state emphasizing the role of senescence in tumour suppression.