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To determine consumer sensory acceptance and value of beef steaks differing in marbling level (high = upper ²⁄₃ USDA Choice and low = USDA Select), but similar in Warner-Bratzler shear value, consumers in Chicago and San Francisco (n = 124 per city) evaluated two matched pairs of high- and low-marbled strip steaks, and had the opportunity to participate in a silent, sealed-bid auction to purchase steaks from the same strip loins as the samples. Consumers who purchased steaks also evaluated the steaks when prepared in their homes. Based on overall acceptability ratings, consumers were categorized into three groups: 1) those who consistently found high marbling more acceptable, 2) those who consistently found low marbling more acceptable, and 3) those who were indifferent. Consumers who evaluated at least one high-marbled and one low-marbled sample in their home were included in an evaluation environment analysis (n = 50). High-marbled steaks were rated higher (P < 0.01) in juiciness, flavor, and overall acceptability than low- marbled steaks. In Chicago, consumers tended to bid more (P < 0.10) for high-marbled steaks, whereas consumers in San Francisco did not. Consumers who found high-marbled steaks more acceptable and those who found low-marbled steaks more acceptable were willing to pay more (P < 0.01) for the more acceptable product. Consumers who evaluated high- and low-marbled samples in both the laboratory and home environments rated high- and low-marbled samples similar (P > 0.10) in flavor, juiciness, tenderness and overall acceptability when evaluating the steaks in their homes. In addition, these consumers were willing to pay similar (P > 0.10) amounts for high- and low-marbled samples in both environments. Overall, consumers found high-marbled steaks to be more acceptable than low-marbled steaks in flavor and overall acceptability when tenderness differences were minimized in the laboratory environment. Consumers were willing to pay more for their preference, whether that preference was for high-marbled or low-marbled steaks.