Beef cattle are often fed high-concentrate diet (HCD) to achieve high growth rate. However, HCD feeding is strongly associated with metabolic disorders. Mild acid treatment of grains in HCD with 1% hydrochloric acid (HA) followed by neutralization with sodium bicarbonate (SB) might modify rumen fermentation patterns and microbiota, thereby decreasing the negative effects of HCD. This study was thus aimed to investigate the effects of treatment of corn with 1% HA and subsequent neutralization with SB on rumen fermentation and microbiota, inflammatory response and growth performance in beef cattle fed HCD. Eighteen beef cattle were randomly allocated to three groups and each group was fed different diets: low-concentrate diet (LCD) (concentrate : forage = 40 : 60), HCD (concentrate : forage = 60 : 40) or HCD based on treated corn (HCDT) with the same concentrate to forage ratio as the HCD. The corn in the HCDT was steeped in 1% HA (wt/wt) for 48 h and neutralized with SB after HA treatment. The animal trial lasted for 42 days with an adaptation period of 7 days. At the end of the trial, rumen fluid samples were collected for measuring ruminal pH values, short-chain fatty acids, endotoxin (or lipopolysaccharide, LPS) and bacterial microbiota. Plasma samples were collected at the end of the trial to determine the concentrations of plasma LPS, proinflammatory cytokines and acute phase proteins (APPs). The results showed that compared with the LCD, feeding the HCD had better growth performance due to a shift in the ruminal fermentation pattern from acetate towards propionate, butyrate and valerate. However, the HCD decreased ruminal pH and increased ruminal LPS release and the concentrations of plasma proinflammatory cytokines and APPs. Furthermore, feeding the HCD reduced bacterial richness and diversity in the rumen. Treatment of corn increased resistant starch (RS) content. Compared with the HCD, feeding the HCDT reduced ruminal LPS and improved ruminal bacterial microbiota, resulting in decreased inflammation and improved growth performance. In conclusion, although the HCD had better growth performance than the LCD, feeding the HCD promoted the pH reduction and the LPS release in the rumen, disturbed the ruminal bacterial stability and increased inflammatory response. Treatment of corn with HA in combination with subsequent SB neutralization increased the RS content and helped counter the negative effects of feeding HCD to beef steers.