The formation of toxic fermentation inhibitors such as furfural and 5-hydroxy-2-methylfurfural (HMF) during acid (pre-)treatment of lignocellulose, calls for the efficient removal of these compounds. Lignocellulosic hydrolysates can be efficiently detoxified biologically with microorganisms that specifically metabolize the fermentation inhibitors while preserving the sugars for subsequent use by the fermentation host. The bacterium Cupriavidus basilensis HMF14 was isolated from enrichment cultures with HMF as the sole carbon source and was found to metabolize many of the toxic constituents of lignocellulosic hydrolysate including furfural, HMF, acetate, formate and a host of aromatic compounds. Remarkably, this microorganism does not grow on the most abundant sugars in lignocellulosic hydrolysates: glucose, xylose and arabinose. In addition, C. basilensis HMF14 can produce polyhydroxyalkanoates. Cultivation of C. basilensis HMF14 on wheat straw hydrolysate resulted in the complete removal of furfural, HMF, acetate and formate, leaving the sugar fraction intact. This unique substrate profile makes C. basilensis HMF14 extremely well suited for biological removal of inhibitors from lignocellulosic hydrolysates prior to their use as fermentation feedstock. © 2009 The Authors.