Eight Zymomonas strains were compared with respect to their sucrose hydrolysing activity and subsequent ethanol, levan and sorbitol formation. The ethanol yields obtained were within narrow limits, 0.40–0.43 g·g-1 of sucrose. The distribution of by-products differed significantly between the strains tested. A low sucrose hydrolysis rate seemed to be associated with the formation of levan and a high sucrose hydrolysis rate with the formation of sorbitol through accumulation of monomeric sugars. Fructo-oligomers consisting of two fructose and one glucose unit represented the greatest loss of sucrose in the fermentation conditions used.