The aim of this study was to investigate the secondary fermentation of alcoholic green cider by Lactobacillus brevis and Oenococcus oeni in a membrane bioreactor so as to compare the performance of the two organisms to rapidly carry out the malolactic fermentation (MLF), an important step in reducing acidity and enhancing the flavor characteristics of the beverages. First, the growth of both organisms was intensified by using perfusion culture in a membrane bioreactor (MBR). O. oeni and L. brevis were grown up to 12.8 g dry cell weight (DCW) l(-1) and 15.5 g DCW l(-1) in the MBR. Secondly, the resultant cells were then used for the malolactic transformation of green cider in the MBR. The influences of the residence time in the MBR and the ethanol concentration of the green cider on the organic acid transformation were investigated. Both organisms showed a good tolerance against the acidic conditions (pH 3.0-4.0) and ethanol (90 g l(-1)). Good levels of malate removal in the MBR were achieved by both organisms but O. oeni was more tolerant to high ethanol concentrations and was capable of growth and malate removal in 130 g ethanol l(-1) green cider. L. brevis malate removal was significantly inhibited above 110 g ethanol l(-1). The MBR allowed the development of high concentrations of active cells capable of rapid MLF and could be achieved over a prolonged period and over a wide range of conditions thus allowing the control of malate transformation rate. Organism selection for the transformation will be governed by the desired beverage characteristics. There is considerable scope to optimize the process further both with the choice of organisms and the design and operation of the reactor. Rapid beverage maturation on a commercial scale may be possible using MBR and pure cultures of MLF lactic acid bacteria.