The treatment of real acid mine drainage water (pH 2.7-4.3) containing sulfate (1.5-3.34 g/L) and various metals was studied in an ethanol-fed sulfate-reducing fluidized bed reactor at 35 degrees C. The robustness of the process was tested by increasing stepwise sulfate, ethanol and metal loading rates and decreasing feed pH and hydraulic retention time. Highest sulfate reduction rate (4.6 g/L day) was obtained with feed sulfate concentration of 2.5 g/L, COD/sulfate ratio of 0.85 and HRT of 12 h. The corresponding sulfate and COD removal efficiencies were about 90% and 80%, respectively. The alkalinity produced in sulfidogenic ethanol oxidation neutralized the acidic mine water. Highest metal precipitation efficiencies were observed at HRT of 24 h, the percent metal removal being over 99.9% for Al (initial concentration 55 mg/L), Co (9.0 mg/L), Cu (49 mg/L), Fe (435 mg/L), Ni (3.8 mg/L), Pb (7.5 mg/L) and Zn (6.6 mg/L), and 94% for Mn (7.21 mg/L). (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.