The development of tolerant microorganisms is needed for the efficient fermentation of inhibitory lignocellulose hydrolysates. In the current work, the fermentation performance of six selected strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in dilute-acid spruce hydrolysate was compared using two different modes of fermentation; either single pulse addition of hydrolysate to exponentially growing cells or continuous feeding of the same amount of hydrolysate in a controlled fed-batch fermentation was made. All strains performed better in fed-batch mode than when all hydrolysate was added at once. However, the difference between strain performances varied significantly in the two fermentation modes. Large differences were observed between strains during the fed-batch experiments in the in vitro ability to reduce the furan compounds furfural and 5-hydroxymethyl furfural (HMF). A common feature among the strains was the induction of NADPH-coupled reduction of furfural and HMF, with the exception of strain CBS 8066. This strain also performed relatively poorly in both batch and fed-batch fermentations. Strain TMB3000—previously isolated from spent sulphite liquor fermentation—was by far the most efficient strain with respect to specific fermentation rate in both pulse addition and fed-batch mode. This strain was the only strain showing a significant constitutive NADH-coupled in vitro reduction of HMF. The ability to induce NADPH-coupled reduction together with the level of the apparently constitutive NADH-coupled reduction appeared to be key factors for selecting a suitable strain for fed-batch conversion of lignocellulose hydrolysate. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2008;100: 423–429. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.