The fermentation characteristics of Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains which overexpress a constitutive OLE1 gene were studied to clarify the relationship between the fatty acid composition of this yeast and its ethanol productivity. The growth yield and ethanol productivity of these strains in the medium containing 15% dextrose at 10 degrees C were greater than those of the control strains under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions but this difference was not observed under other culture conditions. During repeated-batch fermentation, moreover, the growth yield and ethanol productivity of the wild-type S. cerevisiae increased gradually and then were similar to those of the OLE1-overexpressing transformant in the last batch fermentation. However, the unsaturated fatty acid content (77.6%) of the wild-type cells was lower than that (86.2%) of the OLE1-recombinant cells. These results suggested that other phenomena caused by the overexpression of the OLE1 gene, rather than high unsaturated fatty acid content, are essential to ethanol fermentation by this yeast.