Hypoxic pretreatment (3 kPa oxygen) of maize (Zea mays L.) root tips improved their survival time in a subsequent anoxic incubation from 10 h to more than 3 d, provided that glucose was added to the medium to sustain metabolism. The glycolytic flux (lactate + ethanol) was the same in both pretreated and untreated root tips during the 1st h after transfer to anoxia. It was only after 2 h that it declined sharply in untreated tips, but was sustained in pretreated ones. Right after the transition from normoxia to anoxia of untreated root tips, the only fermentative product detected was lactic acid, which accumulated in a 7:1 proportion after 30 min in tissue and medium, respectively. It took 10 min before ethanol could be detected and 20 min for it to be produced at its maximum rate at the expense of lactate production, which slowed down. In contrast, in hypoxically pretreated root tips, ethanol was produced at a maximum rate right after the transfer to anoxia. Concurrently, low amounts of lactic acid were produced that accumulated in a 1:1 proportion after 30 min in tissue and medium, respectively. This large efflux of lactic acid could account for the higher cytoplasmic pH values always found in pretreated tissues. The presence of cycloheximide during pretreatment abolished this difference, suggesting that the greater efficiency of lactate efflux was linked to protein synthesis. The role of lactate in cytosolic pH regulation and in sensitivity to anoxia is discussed.