A study was performed to optimize the production of solvents from whey permeate in batch fermentation using Clostridium acetobutylicum P262. Fermentations performed at relatively low pH values resulted in high solvent yields and productivities, but lactose utilization was incomplete. At higher pH values, lactose utilization was improved but acid production dominated over solvent production. When operating at the higher pH values, an increase in the initial lactose concentration of the whey permeate resulted in lower rates of lactose utilization, and this was accompanied by increased solvent production and decreased acid production. Analysis of data from several experiments revealed a strong inverse relationship between solvent yield and lactose utilization rate. Thus, conditions which minimize the lactose utilization rate, such as low culture pH values or high initial lactose concentrations, favor solventogenesis at the expense of acid production.