The effects of lactic and acetic acids on ethanol production by Saccharomyces cerevisiae in corn mash, as influenced by pH and dissolved solids concentration, were examined. The lactic and acetic acid concentrations utilized were 0, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0% w/v, and 0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.8 and 1.6% w/v, respectively. Corn mashes (20, 25 and 30% dry solids) were adjusted to the following pH levels after lactic or acetic acid addition: 4.0, 4.5, 5.0 or 5.5 prior to yeast inoculation. Lactic acid did not completely inhibit ethanol production by the yeast. However, lactic acid at 4% w/v decreased (P<0.05) final ethanol concentration in all mashes at all pH levels. In 30% solids mash set at pH < or =5, lactic acid at 3% w/v reduced (P<0.05) ethanol production. In contrast, inhibition by acetic acid increased as the concentration of solids in the mash increased and the pH of the medium declined. Ethanol production was completely inhibited in all mashes set at pH 4 in the presence of acetic acid at concentrations > or =0.8% w/v. In 30% solids mash set at pH 4, final ethanol levels decreased (P<0.01) with only 0.1% w/v acetic acid. These results suggest that the inhibitory effects of lactic acid and acetic acid on ethanol production in corn mash fermentation when set at a pH of 5.0-5.5 are not as great as that reported thus far using laboratory media.