Bacteria degrading the quorum-sensing (QS) signal molecule N-hexanoylhomoserine lactone were isolated from a tobacco rhizosphere. Twenty-five isolates degrading this homoserine lactone fell into six groups according to their genomic REP-PCR and rrs PCR-RFLP profiles. Representative strains from each group were identified as members of the genera Pseudomonas, Comamonas, Variovorax and Rhodococcus: all these isolates degraded N-acylhomoserine lactones other than the hexanoic acid derivative, albeit with different specificity and kinetics. One of these isolates, Rhodococcus erythropolis strain W2, was used to quench QS-regulated functions of other microbes. In vitro, W2 strongly interfered with violacein production by Chromobacterium violaceum, and transfer of pathogenicity in Agrobacterium tumefaciens. In planta, R. erythropolis W2 markedly reduced the pathogenicity of Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. carotovorum in potato tubers. These series of results reveal the diversity of the QS-interfering bacteria in the rhizosphere and demonstrate the validity of targeting QS signal molecules to control pathogens with natural bacterial isolates.