Lactic acid production by Lactobacillus brevis and Lactobacillus pentosus on a hemicellulose hydrolysate (HH) of wet-oxidized wheat straw was evaluated. The potential of 11-12 g/l fermentable sugars was released from the HH through either enzymatic or acidic pretreatment. Fermentation of added xylose in untreated HH after wet-oxidation, showed no inhibition on the lactic acid production by either Lb. pentosus or Lb. brevis. Lb. pentosus produced lactate corresponding to 88% of the theoretical maximum yield regardless of the hydrolysis method, whereas Lb. brevis produced 51% and 61% of the theoretical maximum yield after enzymatic, or acid treatment of HH, respectively. Individually, neither of the two strains were able to fully utilize the relatively broad spectra of sugars released by the acid and enzyme treatments; however, lactic acid production increased to 95% of the theoretical maximum yield by co-inoculation of both strains. Xylulose was the main sugar released after enzymatic treatment of HH with Celluclast(R). Lb. brevis was able to degrade xylobiose, but was unable to assimilate xylulose, whereas Lb. pentosus was able to assimilate xylulose but unable to degrade xylobiose. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.