Drip samples were collected at 4-week intervals from 10 vacuum-packaged beef striploins stored for 16 weeks at -1.5 degrees C and assayed for populations of lactic-acid bacteria (LAB), pH and spoilage-causing fermentation products. A total of 15 LAB species were identified using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and biochemical analysis. A pattern of succession was observed during storage between strains of Carnobacterium, Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc and Pediococcus. Acetic acid production was associated with increasing LAB populations generally and butyric acid production was associated with the development of a particular strain of Leuconostoc. Changes in pH is postulated as a driver of succession.