Ethanol production from xylitol by resting cells of Pachysolen tannophilus was increased 40-fold in the presence of nystatin, amphotericin B, and filipin, a group of antifungal agents that alter the permeability of the plasma membrane. Furthermore, these agents had little or no effect on ethanol formation from xylitol or xylose by the cell extract. During xylose metabolism, nystatin caused the intracellular xylitol to leak out into the medium at a 23-fold-faster rate but did not affect overall xylose utilization and CO(2) evolution. These observations explain the rate of xylitol utilization by cell extract being higher than that by whole cells (J. Xu and K. B. Taylor, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 59:231-235, 1993) as well as the relative inability of P. tannophilus to utilize xylitol to support significant ethanol production and cell growth.