The application of Khtyveromyces marxianus (IFO 288), Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus (ATCC 11842) and Lactobacillus helveticus (ATCC 15009) as starter cultures for sourdough bread making was examined. Production of lactic and acetic acids, bread rising, volatile composition, shelf-life and organoleptic quality of the sourdough breads were evaluated. The amount of starter culture added to the flour, the dough fermentation temperature and the amount of sourdough used were examined in order to optimise the bread making process. The use of mixed cultures led to higher total titratable acidities and lactic acid concentrations compared to traditionally made breads. Highest acidity (3.41 g lactic acid/kg of bread) and highest resistance to mould spoilage were observed when bread was made using 50% sourdough containing 1% K marxianus and 4% L. delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus. The use of these cultures also improved the aroma of sourdough breads, as shown by sensory evaluations and as revealed by GC-MS analysis. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.