Glycerol is an important byproduct of bioethanol and biodiesel production processes. This study aims to evaluate its potential application in mixed culture fermentation processes to produce bulk chemicals. Two chemostat reactors were operated in parallel, one fed with glycerol and the other with glucose. Both reactors operated at a pH of 8 and a dilution rate of 0.1 h−1. Glycerol was mainly converted into ethanol and formate. When operated under substrate limiting conditions, 60% of the substrate carbon was converted into ethanol and formate in a 1:1 ratio. This product spectrum showed sensitivity to the substrate concentration, which partly shifted towards 1,3-propanediol and acetate in a 2:1 ratio at increasing substrate concentrations. Glucose fermentation mainly generated acetate, ethanol and butyrate. At higher substrate concentrations, acetate and ethanol were the dominant products. Co-fermentations of glucose–glycerol were performed with both mixed cultures, previously cultivated on glucose and on glycerol. The product spectrum of the two experiments was very similar: the main products were ethanol and butyrate (38% and 34% of the COD converted, respectively). The product spectrum obtained for glucose and glycerol fermentation could be explained based on the general metabolic pathways found for fermentative microorganisms and on the metabolic constraints: maximization of the ATP production rate and balancing the reducing equivalents involved. Biotechnol. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2008;100: 1088–1098. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.