5-Hydroxymethyl furfural (HMF) may occur in malt in high quantities depending on roasting conditions. However, the HMF content of different types of beers is relatively low, indicating its potential for degradation during fermentation. This study investigates the degradation kinetics of HMF in wort during fermentation by Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The results indicated that HMF decreased exponentially as fermentation progressed. The first-order degradation rate of HMF was 0.693 x 10(-2) and 1.397 x 10(-2) min(-1) for wort and sweet wort, respectively, indicating that sugar enhances the activity of yeasts. In wort, HMF was converted into hydroxymethyl furfuryl alcohol by yeasts with a high yield (79-84% conversion). Glucose and fructose were utilised more rapidly by the yeasts in dark roasted malt than in pale malt (p<0.05). The conversion of HMF into hydroxymethyl furfuryl alcohol seems to be a primary activity of yeast cells, and presence of sugars in the fermentation medium increases this activity.