In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, genes encoding maltose permeases and maltases are located in the telomeric regions of different chromosomes. The COMPASS methylation complex, which methylates lysine 4 on histone H3, controls the silencing of telomeric regions. Yeast strains deleted for SWD1, SWD3, SDC1, SET1, BRE2 or SPP1, encoding components of the COMPASS complex, fermented a medium containing 22% maltose with noticeably higher attenuation than did the wild type, resulting in production of up to 29% more ethanol. The least effective strain was spp1. Absence of COMPASS components had no effect on the fermentation of media with 20% glucose, 20% sucrose or 16% maltose. Deletion of SWD3 resulted in larger amounts of MAL12 transcript, encoding maltase, at the late stages of fermentation of 22% maltose. A similar effect on maltase activity and maltose uptake capability was seen. The lysine 4 residue of histone H3 was trimethylated in wild-type cells at the late stages, while only small amounts of the dimethylated form were detected. Trimethylation and dimethylation of this residue were not detected in strains deleted for SWD1, SWD3, SET1, BRE2 or SDC1. Trimethylated lysine 4 was apparent only at the early stages (48 and 96 h) of fermentation in an spp1 strain. Results indicate that the COMPASS complex represses the expression of maltose utilization genes during the late stages of fermentation of a high concn. of maltose.