The potential benefits prefermentation can provide to biological nutrient removal are measured and compared to the costs of excess oxygen consumption and sludge production incurred by an activated sludge system that utilizes prefermentation, instead of primary clarification. Prefermentation was found to produce superior performance in regards to enhanced biological phosphorus removal. A lower soluble orthophosphorus effluent value [3.2 mg/L for the prefermented activated sludge (PAS) train versus 4.6 mg/L for the control train with primary clarification (PCAS)] and a higher percent phosphorus (% P) content of the biomass (9.0% for the PAS train versus 7.8% for the PCAS train) were both found to be statistically significant (P values of 4.26 x 10(-5) and 0.0082, respectively). In addition statistically significant improvements in denitrification rates and reduced observed yields were observed due to prefermentation. However statistically significant increases in solids inventory and in particular oxygen uptake rates offset these improvements. Waste activated sludge production was slightly higher in the PAS train but was not found to be statistically significant.