The possibility of the diversion of carbon flux from ethanol towards glycerol in Saccharomyces cerevisiae during alcoholic fermentation was investigated. Variations in the glycerol 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GPDH) level and similar trends for alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), pyruvate decarboxylase and glycerol-3-phosphatase were found when low and high glycerol-forming wine yeast strains were compared. GPDH is thus a limiting enzyme for glycerol production. Wine yeast strains with modulated GPD1 (encoding one of the two GPDH isoenzymes) expression were constructed and characterized during fermentation on glucose-rich medium. Engineered strains fermented glucose with a strongly modified [glycerol] : [ethanol] ratio. gpd1Δ mutants exhibited a 50% decrease in glycerol production and increased ethanol yield. Overexpression of GPD1 on synthetic must (200 g/l glucose) resulted in a substantial increase in glycerol production (×4) at the expense of ethanol. Acetaldehyde accumulated through the competitive regeneration of NADH via GPDH. Accumulation of by-products such as pyruvate, acetate, acetoin, 2,3 butane-diol and succinate was observed, with a marked increase in acetoin production. © 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.