Baker's yeast industries (BYI) generate highly polluted effluents, especially vinasse from yeast separators, with very high chemical oxygen demand (COD), nitrogen, sulphate and salts, mainly potassium and calcium. Anaerobic treatment is the most commonly applied method for treating BYI wastewaters. However, it is quite challenging to obtain a high performance due to the difficulties in biomass retention. Moreover, it does not provide compliance with COD and color discharge limits when used as a sole treatment process. In this context, a pilot scale anaerobic membrane bioreactor, which provides excellent biomass retention, was operated to investigate its treatment performance for vinasse from a BYI. The reactor achieved a COD removal between 48% and 92% up to a volumetric load of 10 kg COD m(3) d(-1). A specific methane production of 0.37 m(3) CH4 kg(-1) CODremoved was observed in the study. On the other hand, passage of inert organic compounds through membrane deteriorated permeate quality and treatment efficiency. High alkalinity and pH led to the accumulation of calcium precipitates, which reduced volatile solids fraction of sludge and biomass activity in the reactor. The present study showed the operational challenges and potential drawbacks of AnMBR systems for BYI wastewater treatment. The experience gained in the pilot system can be utilized in the design and operation of full scale AnMBRs for high strength industrial effluents.