AIMS To evaluate the effect of Lactobacillus buchneri, heterofermentative lactic acid bacteria (LAB), on the fermentation, aerobic stability and ruminal degradability of whole-crop maize silages under laboratory conditions. Two homofermentative LAB were tested for the purpose of comparison. METHODS AND RESULTS Maize was harvested at early dent [290 g kg(-1) dry matter (DM)] and one-half milk line (355 g kg(-1) DM) stages. Both homofermentative LAB were applied at 1 x 10(5) CFU g(-1) of fresh forage. Lactobacillus buchneri was applied at 1 x 10(5), 5 x 10(5) and 1 x 10(6) CFU g(-1) of fresh forage. Silages with no additives served as control. After treatment, the chopped forages were ensiled in 1.5-l anaerobic jars. Three jars per treatment were sampled on day 60. After 60 days of storage, silages were subjected to an aerobic stability test lasting for 5 days, in which CO(2) production, as well as chemical and microbiological parameters, was measured to determine the extent of aerobic deterioration. Both homofermentative LAB increased the concentration of lactic acid and the numbers of yeasts, and decreased the concentration of acetic acid and impaired the aerobic stability of silages. In contrast, applying L. buchneri decreased the concentration of lactic acid and increased the concentration of acetic acid of the silages. Under aerobic conditions, silages treated with 5 x 10(5) and 1 x 10(6) CFU g(-1) of L. buchneri, had lower pH, CO(2) production and the numbers of yeasts than the silages treated with 1 x 10(5) CFU g(-1) of L. buchneri (P < 0.05). However, all doses of L. buchneri and both homofermentative LAB did not affect in situ rumen DM, organic matter and neutral detergent fibre degradability of the silages. CONCLUSIONS Lactobacillus buchneri was very effective in protecting maize silages exposed to air under laboratory conditions. All doses of L. buchneri, especially 5 x 10(5) CFU g(-1) or more, markedly decreased the numbers of yeasts and improved the aerobic stability of silages. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY The use of L. buchneri, as a silage inoculant, can improve the aerobic stability of maize silages by inhibition of yeast activity.