Surface culture citric acid fermentation was carried out by Aspergillus niger T55, a strain isolated from its natural source, using cane molasses, either untreated or treated by various methods. Citric acid biosynthesis is seriously impaired by both organic and inorganic inhibitors. A combined treatment of molasses with tricalcium phosphate, hydrochloric acid, and Sephadex fractionation minimizes the level of inorganic and organic inhibitors in molasses and increases the production of citric acid (65% weight yield based on total reducing sugar). The optimum level of individual metal ions for citric acid production depends on the concentration of other metals in the medium. Copyright © 1984 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.