Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) in retail, modified-atmosphere-packaged (MAP), marinated broiler meat strips on sell-by-day were mainly identified as Leuconostoc gasicomitatum. A total of 32 packages, three to five packages of seven differently marinated broiler meat products, were studied at the end of the producer-defined shelf life (at 6 degrees C, 7-9 days depending on the manufacturer). Prior to the microbiological analyses, appearance and smell of the product was checked and pH measured. Bacteria were cultured on MRS and Tomato Juice Agar (TJA), Rogosa SL agar (SLA), Plate Count Agar (PCA) and Streptomycin Thallium Acetate Agar (STAA) for the enumeration of LAB, lactobacilli, total bacterial count and Brochothrix thermosphacta, respectively. The average CFU/g of the 32 packages was 2.3 x 10(8) on PCA. The highest bacterial average, 3.1 x 10(8), was recovered on TJA, the corresponding CFU/g averages on MRS and SLA being 2.3 x 10(8) and 1.3 x 10(8), respectively. Despite the high LAB numbers detected, radical spoilage changes such as unpleasant odor, slime production and formation of gas were not seen. B. thermosphacta did not form a significant part of the bacterial population since none of the levels exceeded the spoilage threshold level of 10(5) CFU/g reported in previous studies for this organism. In order to characterize the dominating LAB population, as many as 85, 85 and 88 colonies from MRS, TJA and SLA, respectively, were randomly picked and cultured pure. LAB were identified to species level using a 16 and 23S rDNA HindIiI RFLP (ribotyping) database. Fifty-six of the 170 isolates picked from the non-selective LAB media (MRS and TJA) were identified as L. gasicomitatum, followed by Carnobacterium divergens (41 isolates), Lactobacillus sakei and Lactobacillus curvatus subsp. melibiosus (31 isolates) and L. curvatus subsp. curvatus (20 isolates) species. SLA proved not to be completely selective for lactobacilli because the growth of Leuconostoc spp. was not inhibited, Carnobacterium spp. were the only species not detected on SLA.