The growth and survival of Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella typhimurium were investigated during the manufacturing and ripening of raw milk Montasio cheese. Initial inoculated populations in the cheese milk were about 10(5) cfu/ml for S. aureus and 10(6) cfu/ml for S. typhimurium. Samples of curds and cheeses were taken during manufacturing and storage and analysed for pH and microbial populations. S. aureus increased slightly in number during the early period of ripening and attained a population of about 10(6) cfu/ml during the remaining period of storage. S. typhimurium decreased during cheesemaking and storage but persisted through 90 days. The addition of Lactobacillus plantarum culture (0.2% v/v) produced a marked reduction in populations of the test strains in 10 days of storage. Enterotoxin A was not detected in Montasio cheese even with a S. aureus population of 1.1 X 10(7) cfu/ml. L. plantarum strains were also tested by the spot method and the associative growth approach for their antagonistic activity against S. aureus and S. typhimurium. The compound excreted by L. plantarum was active only toward S. aureus. Furthermore, its activity was destroyed by protease treatment. These results indicated that while the growth of S. typhimurium is reduced by the acid production, S. aureus inhibition can be ascribed to bacteriocin production.