Powdery mildew is one of the most important limiting factors for cucurbits production in Spain, its management being strongly dependent on chemicals. The aim of this work was to evaluate the possibility of exploiting antagonistic bacteria in the biological control of the cucurbit powdery mildew fungus Podosphaera fusca (syn. Sphaerotheca fusca). Among a collection of bacterial strains isolated from distinct cucurbit powdery mildew diseased plants and rhizospheric soils, four isolates were selected, by means of a screening method based on antibiotic production, and identified as Bacillus spp. These isolates proved to be efficacious in the control of cucurbit powdery mildew in in vitro detached leaves and seedling biocontrol assays, where reductions of disease severity of up to 80% were obtained. Furthermore, bacterial populations on melon leaves remained at similar levels (10(5) cfu cm(-2)) over the 16-day period studied and, as observed by scanning electron microscopy analysis, they were able to establish microcolonies associated with an extracellular matrix, which reveals that these isolates efficiently colonize melon phylloplane. These results indicate that the bacterial isolates selected are promising candidates for biological control agents of cucurbit powdery mildew in southern Spain.