Sulfidogenic treatment of sulfate (2-10 g/L) and zinc (65-677 mg/L) containing simulated wastewater was studied in a mesophilic(35 degrees C) CSTR. Ethanol was supplemented (COD/sulfate = 0.67)as carbon and energy source for sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB). The robustness of the system was studied by increasing Zn, COD and sulfate loadings. Sulfate removal efficiency, which was 70% at 2 g/L feed sulfate concentration, steadily decreased with increasing feed sulfate concentration and reached 40% at 10 g/L Over 99% Zn removal was attained due to the formation of zinc-sulfide precipitate. COD removal efficiency at 2 g/L feed sulfate concentration was over 94%, whereas, it steadily decreased due to the accumulation of acetate at higher loadings. Alkalinity produced from acetate oxidation increased wastewater pH remarkably when feed sulfate concentration was 5 g/L or lower. Electron flow from carbon oxidation to sulfate reduction averaged 83 +/- 13%. The rest of the electrons were most likely coupled with fermentative reactions as the amount of methane production was insignificant. The developed ANN model was very successful as an excellent to reasonable match was obtained between the measured and the predicted concentrations of sulfate (R = 0.998), COD (R = 0.993). acetate (R = 0.976) and zinc (R = 0.827) in the CSTR effluent. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.