A physiologically diverse range of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria was found to be susceptible to inhibition and inactivation by lactoferricin B, a peptide produced by gastric pepsin digestion of bovine lactoferrin. The list of susceptible organisms includes Escherichia coli, Salmonella enteritidis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Proteus vulgaris, Yersinia enterocolitica, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Campylobacter jejuni, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mutans, Corynebacterium diphtheriae, Listeria monocytogenes and Clostridium perfringens. Concentrations of lactoferricin B required to cause complete inhibition of growth varied within the range of 0.3 to 150 micrograms/ml, depending on the strain and the culture medium used. The peptide showed activity against E. coli O111 over the range of pH 5.5 to 7.5 and was most effective under slightly alkaline conditions. Its antibacterial effectiveness was reduced in the presence of Na+, K+, Mg2+ or Ca2+ ions, or in the presence of various buffer salts. Lactoferricin B was lethal, causing a rapid loss of colony-forming capability in most of the species tested. Pseudomonas fluorescens, Enterococcus faecalis and Bifidobacterium bifidum strains were highly resistant to this peptide.