When the amino acid-fermenting bacterium Clostridium aminophilum F was inoculated into media containing 1 microM monensin or a bacteriocin-like inhibitory substance (BLIS) from Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens JL5, the cultures lagged and growth was not observed for more than 12 h. The monensin- and BLIS-treated cultures eventually grew rapidly and did not lag a second time. Because cross-resistance could not be demonstrated, it appeared that the adaptation was specific. Non-adapted cells that were incubated with monensin lost their ability to produce ammonia from amino acids, and ATP, intracellular potassium, and electrical potential (DeltaPsi) were lower than untreated cells. Monensin-adapted cells regained their ability to produce ammonia, and intracellular potassium and DeltaPsi increased, but ATP was still 40% lower than untreated cells. When non-adapted cells were treated with the BLIS, ammonia production did not decline. Non-adapted cells were agglutinated by lysozyme, but in each case, adapted cells were not agglutinated. Adapted cells had more cellular polysaccharide and bound less of either inhibitor. Based on these results, it appears that the adapted cells had altered cell wall characteristics that prevented the binding of either monensin or the B. fibrisolvens JL5 BLIS.