The influence of pH shocks on the trace metal dynamics and performance of methanol fed upflow anaerobic granular sludge bed (UASB) reactors was investigated. For this purpose, two UASB reactors were operated with metal pre-loaded granular sludge (1mM Co, Ni and Fe; 30°C; 96h) at an organic loading rate (OLR) of 5gCOD l reactor−1d−1. One UASB reactor (R1) was inoculated with sludge that originated from a full scale reactor treating alcohol distillery wastewater, while the other reactor (R2) was inoculated with sludge from a full scale reactor treating paper mill wastewater. A 30h pH shock (pH 5) strongly affected the metal retention dynamics within the granular sludge bed in both reactors. Iron losses in soluble form with the effluent were considerable: 2.3 and 2.9% for R1 and R2, respectively, based on initial iron content in the reactors, while losses of cobalt and nickel in soluble form were limited. Sequential extraction of the metals from the sludge showed that cobalt, nickel, iron and sulfur were translocated from the residual to the organic/sulfide fraction during the pH shock in R2, increasing 34, 47, 109 and 41% in the organic/sulfide fraction, respectively. This is likely due to the modification of the iron sulfide precipitate stability, which influences the extractability of iron and trace metals. Such a translocation was not observed for the R1 sludge during the first 30h pH shock, but a second 4day pH shock induced significant losses of cobalt (18%), iron (29%) and sulfur (29%) from the organic/sulfide fraction, likely due to iron sulfide dissolution and concomitant release of cobalt. After the 30h pH shock, VFA accumulated in the R2 effluent, whereas both VFA and methanol accumulated in R1 after the 4day pH shock. The formed VFA, mainly acetate, were not converted to methane due to the loss of methanogenic activity of the sludge on acetate. The VFA accumulation gradually disappeared, which is likely to be related to out-competition of acetogens by methanogens. Zinc, copper and manganese supply did not have a clear effect on the acetate removal and methanol conversion, but zinc may have induced the onset of methanol degradation after day 152 in R1.