Fourteen bacterial strains capable of producing a trypsin-dependent antimicrobial substance active against Clostridium perfringens were isolated from human fecal samples of various origins (from healthy adults and children, as well as from adults with chronic pouchitis). Identification of these strains showed that they belonged to Ruminococcus gnavus, Clostridium nexile, and Ruminococcus hansenii species or to new operational taxonomic units, all from the Clostridium coccoides phylogenetic group. In hybridization experiments with a probe specific for the structural gene encoding the trypsin-dependent lantibiotic ruminococcin A (RumA) produced by R. gnavus, seven strains gave a positive response. All of them harbored three highly conserved copies of rumA-like genes. The deduced peptide sequence was identical to or showed one amino acid difference from the hypothetical precursor of RumA. Our results indicate that the rumA-like genes have been disseminated among R. gnavus and phylogenetically related strains that can make up a significant part of the human fecal microbiota.