Fermented foods are frequently contaminated by histamine that is generated by microorganisms with histidine decarboxylase activity. The ingestion of large amounts of histamine can cause serious toxicological problems in humans. A study of the effects of histamine, histidine, and growth phase on histamine production by lactic acid bacteria isolated from wine is reported here. With northern blots and specific activity analysis, we observed that histidine induces the expression of the histidine decarboxylase gene (hdc) and that histamine causes a decrease in the expression of this gene. The expression of hdc is also mediated by the bacterial growth phase. Histidine and histamine do not affect histidine decarboxylase activity, whereas pyridoxal 5'-phosphate does. Data on histamine-producing lactic acid bacteria isolated from wine should contribute to the prevention of histamine formation during winemaking and storage.