The effects of heat treatment ( evaporation and excessive heating), and microbial contamination ( Rhizopus stolonifer, Penicillium expansum and Lactobacillus plantarum) as sources of fumaric acid formation in apple juice concentrates were investigated. Fumaric acid formed in apple juice did not exceed 1.0 mg l(-1) during both commercial-scale evaporation and laboratory-scale excessive heat treatment, indicating that malic dehydration is not the primary source of fumaric acid formation. However, R. stolonifer and L. plantarum produced 18.23 +/- 0.82 and 5.39 +/- 0.31 mg l(-1) fumaric acid as determined in the raw juice obtained from contaminated apples after 5 days of incubation. The mean fumaric acid content of apple juice concentrates manufactured in 2000, 2001 and 2002 were determined as 4.9 +/- 1.9, 5.7 +/- 2.8 and 4.1 +/- 2.6 mg l(-1), respectively. The overall results suggest that the primary source of fumaric acid in apple juice concentrate is the use of apples decayed by certain microorganisms capable of producing fumaric acid.