AbstractAcetic acid, one major inhibitor released during the hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass, can be utilized by the oleaginous yeast Trichosporon fermentans without glucose repression. The effect of acetic acid on the cell growth and lipid accumulation of T. fermentans under controlled pH conditions was investigated in a 5-L fermentor. Undissociated acetic acid with concentrations of 0.026, 0.052, and 0.096 g L-1 in media contributed to approximately 12-, 24-, and 48-h lag phases, respectively, indicating that undissociated acetic acid is the inhibitory molecular form. The inhibition of cell growth was correlated with undissociated acetic acid concentration. However, acetic acid had little influence on the lipid accumulation of T. fermentans at different pH conditions. The specific glucose consumption rate decreased with increasing acetic acid concentration, but the impact of acetic acid on the specific xylose consumption rate was not pronounced. In addition, the variation of pH and acetic acid concentration had no significant influence on the fatty acid composition of the lipids. Acetic acid showed more severe inhibition under low pH conditions. The reduction of intracellular pH partly explains this inhibitory effect.