Kinetic theory and experimental observations of a special class of energetic particle driven instabilities called here beta-induced Alfv́n-acoustic eigenmodes (BAAEs) are reported confirming, previous results [N. N. Gorelenkov, Plasma Phys. Controlled Fusion 49, B371 (2007)]. The kinetic theory is based on the ballooning dispersion relation where the drift frequency effects are retained. BAAE gaps are recovered in kinetic theory. It is shown that the observed certain low-frequency instabilities on DIII-D [J. L. Luxon, Nucl. Fusion 42, 614 (2002)] and National Spherical Torus Experiment [M. Ono, S. M. Kaye, Y.-K. M. Peng, Nucl. Fusion 40, 557 (2000)] are consistent with their identification as BAAEs. BAAEs deteriorate the fast ion confinement in DIII-D and can have a similar effect in next-step fusion plasmas, especially if excited together with multiple global toroidicity-induced shear Alfv́n eigenmode instabilities. BAAEs can also be used to diagnose safety factor profiles, a technique known as magnetohydrodynamic spectroscopy. © 2009 American Institute of Physics.