Utilization of the three major corn reserve materials, starch, triglycerides (refined corn oil), and zein (storage protein), by Aspergillus flavus was monitored in vitro over a 7-day fermentation. Medium composition in which proportions of reserve materials initially approximated proportions in mature corn kernels changed little over the first 18 h. Subsequently, hydrolysis of both starch and triglycerides occurred simultaneously, with peak concentrations of glucose and free fatty acids on day 2 of the fermentation period. Fatty acid concentrations dropped relatively rapidly after day 2 but increased again after day 6. Aflatoxin B(1) production increased after 36 h, with a peak at day 4. Aflatoxin B(1) production paralleled fungal biomass production during the exponential growth phase. A. flavus did not appear to preferentially utilize any of the released fatty acids. A number of fungus-specific metabolites were detected, including arabitol, erythritol, mannitol, trehalose, and kojic acid. Mannitol exceeded the other metabolites in concentration, and the timing of mannitol production closely paralleled that of aflatoxin B(1). Kojic acid concentrations peaked at day 6. In contrast to previously described selective use of simple carbohydrates by A. flavus, less discrimination was displayed when faced with utilization of complex substrates such as starch or triglycerides.