The metabolism of trans,trans-muconaldehyde (MA), a highly reactive alpha,beta-unsaturated dialdehyde, was examined in vitro using purified yeast alcohol and aldehyde dehydrogenases (ADH and ALDH, respectively). In the presence of NAD(+)-fortified ALDH, the mono-oxidation product (acid/aldehyde) was the primary metabolite formed with trace amounts of the dioxidation product (trans,trans-muconic acid). In NADH-fortified reactions with ADH, both the mono- and direduction products (hydroxy/aldehyde and dihydroxy, respectively) were readily detected. Oxidation and reduction products of MA were formed in incubates containing both dehydrogenases together with either NAD+ or NADH. Unexpectedly, an additional metabolite was detected, which was a major product in both NAD(+)- and NADH-fortified systems containing ALDH and ADH in combination and whose formation could be inhibited by pyrazole (an ADH inhibitor). ALDH-mediated oxidation of a synthetic standard of the hydroxy/aldehyde derivative of MA resulted in formation of this new metabolite, which was also a major product formed by rat hepatocytes incubated with MA. Using HPLC/photodiode array detection, the new metabolite was found to cochromatograph and have a uv spectrum identical to that of a synthetic standard of the hydroxy/acid derivative of MA. The metabolite was confirmed as the hydroxy/acid derivative of MA after preparative HPLC, TMS derivatization, and GC/MS analysis. The hydroxy/acid metabolite was not formed during ADH-mediated reduction of the mono-oxidation product of MA, suggesting that this metabolite was formed by yeast dehydrogenases via a primary reduction of MA and subsequent oxidation of the hydroxy/aldehyde to the hydroxy/acid. These data show that the hydroxy/acid derivative is a novel metabolite of MA, which arises from the interaction of both oxidative and reductive routes of metabolism.