Direct-fed microbials (DFM) have been shown to improve gain and growth efficiency and also modulate ruminal fermentation. In Exp. 1,72 beef steers were used to compare a lactate-producing bacterial (LAB) DFM consisting primarily of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Enterococcus faecium,and a lactate-producing and lactate-utilizing (LAB/LU) DFM consisting primarily of L. acidophilus and Propionibacterium both fed at 10(9) cfu/d. Steers were fed a corn-based finishing diet for 153 d and then slaughtered for collection of carcass characteristics. In Exp. 2, 12 ruminally cannulated steers were fed acorn-based finishing diet and treated with 10(9) cfu/d of LAB DFM. Rumen fluid was sampled on d 14 and 28 over a 12-h period. Steers were ruminally dosed with a 2-L solution of neutralized DL-lactate (0.56 M)and Cr-EDTA (13.22 M) 3 h postfeeding on d 15 and 29. Ruminal samples were collected at 10- and 20-minintervals for the first and second hour postdosing. No differences (P ≥ 0.14) between control (CON) and LAB for DMI, ADG, growth efficiency, or carcass characteristics were observed. Dry matter intake was greater (P = 0.04) for LAB/LU than LAB from d 0 to 28 but did not differ (P ≥ 0.29) thereafter. Average daily gain was greater (P = 0.04) and efficiency tended(P = 0.06) to be greater for LAB than LAB/LU over the entire 153 d. In Exp. 2, total VFA concentration and molar proportions of butyrate were unaffected(P ≥ 0.24). Molar proportions of acetate exhibited a DFM by hour interaction (P = 0.04); however, on average, molar proportion of acetate was 4.4% greater for DFM. Conversely, DFM did not affect the molar proportion of propionate (P = 0.39). On average,molar proportions of propionate tended to increase(P = 0.07), and acetate tended to decrease (P = 0.07)across days. Mean daily ruminal pH was similar for CON on d 14 and 28, whereas mean pH increased from d 14 to 28 for DFM (DFM × day; P = 0.08).Minimum pH remained unchanged for CON over time but increased from d 14 to 2 for DFM (DFM × day;P = 0.10). Maximum pH decreased from d 14 to 28 in CON but increased over time with DFM (DFM × day;P = 0.05). DL- and L-lactate utilization were unaffected by DFM (P ≥ 0.33) or day (P ≥ 0.50). Although the LAB DFM did not impact growth performance, itd id modulate ruminal fermentation, as evidenced by shifts in ruminal VFA profile and pH; however, DFM did not appear to influence ruminal lactate utilization.