The market for glucoamylase is large and very competitive and the production process has been optimized through several decades. So far a thorough characterization of the process has not been published, but previous academic reports suggest that the process suffers from severe byproduct formation. In this study we have carried out a thorough characterization of a process as close as possible to the industrial reality. The results show that the oxygen-limited phases of the process have the highest glucoamylase yields on carbon and that the byproducts are efficiently reused in late phases of the process. An alternative process with low glucose concentration show that high osmolarity is beneficial for the process, and we conclude that oxygen limitation, high osmolarity, and the associated byproduct metabolism are important for the efficiency of the process. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2012;109: 116–124. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.