Background A metabolic regulation study was performed, based upon measurements of enzymatic activities, fermentation performance, and RT-PCR analysis of pathways related to central carbon metabolism, in an ethanologenic Escherichia coli strain (CCE14) derived from lineage C. In comparison with previous engineered strains, this E coli derivative has a higher ethanol production rate in mineral medium, as a result of the elevated heterologous expression of the chromosomally integrated genes encoding PDCZm and ADHZm (pyruvate decarboxylase and alcohol dehydrogenase from Zymomonas mobilis). It is suggested that this behavior might be due to lineage differences between E. coli W and C. Results This study demonstrated that the glycolytic flux is controlled, in this case, by reactions outside glycolysis, i.e., the fermentative pathways. Changes in ethanol production rate in this ethanologenic strain result in low organic acid production rates, and high glycolytic and ethanologenic fluxes, that correlate with enhanced transcription and enzymatic activity levels of PDCZm and ADHZm. Furthermore, a higher ethanol yield (90% of the theoretical) in glucose-mineral media was obtained with CCE14 in comparison with previous engineered E. coli strains, such as KO11, that produces a 70% yield under the same conditions. Conclusion Results suggest that a higher ethanol formation rate, caused by ahigher PDCZm and ADHZm activities induces a metabolic state that cells compensate through enhanced glucose transport, ATP synthesis, and NAD-NADH+H turnover rates. These results show that glycolytic enzymatic activities, present in E. coli W and C under fermentative conditions, are sufficient to contend with increases in glucose consumption and product formation rates.