The dipeptidases (PepVs) from three typical lactococcal strains, Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis (L9), L. lactis subsp. cremoris (L6) and L. lactis subsp. hordniae (hT) were cloned and characterized. The metal-binding, catalytic, and substrate-binding sites are highly conserved among of them. A computer-generated three-dimensional model suggested that the amino acid differences between these PepVs were mostly located away from the active center. L9 PepV does not hydrolyze dipeptides bearing Pro or D-amino acid at the C-terminal amino acid. Unlike PepV from Lactobacillus delbrueckii, L9 PepV does not cleave beta-Asp-His, and has little ability to cleave dipeptides containing a beta-alanine. In addition, L9 PepV has a much higher kcat for dipeptides with an N-terminal Ala but a significantly higher Km when the N-terminal amino acid is Gly. The substrate recognition profile of PepV is further discussed on the basis of the kinetic analysis and the structural model.