Production of ethanol from lignocellulosic materials has a promising market potential, but the process is still only at pilot/demonstration scale due to the technical and economical difficulties of the process. Operating the process at very high solids concentrations (above 20% dry matter—DM) has proven essential for economic feasibility at industrial scale. Historically, simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) was found to give better ethanol yields compared to separate hydrolysis and fermentation (SHF), but data in literature are typically based on operating the process at low dry matter conditions. In this work the impact of selected enzyme preparation and processing strategy (SHF, presaccharification and simultaneous saccharification and fermentation—PSSF, and SSF) on final ethanol yield and overall performance was investigated with pretreated wheat straw up to 30% DM. The experiments revealed that an SSF strategy was indeed better than SHF when applying an older generation enzyme cocktail (Celluclast-Novozym 188). In case of the newer product Cellic CTec 2, SHF resulted in 20% higher final ethanol yield compared to SSF. It was possible to close the mass balance around cellulose to around 94%, revealing that the most relevant products could be accounted for. One observation was the presence of oxidized sugar (gluconic acid) upon enzymatic hydrolysis with the latest enzyme preparation. Experiments showed gluconic acid formation by recently discovered enzymatic class of lytic polysaccharides monoxygenases (LPMO's) to be depending on the processing strategy. The lowest concentration was achieved in SSF, which could be correlated with less available oxygen due to simultaneous oxygen consumption by the yeast. Quantity of glycerol and cell mass was also depending on the selected processing strategy. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2014;111: 59–68. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.