The effect of growth of different types of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) on the storage life of normal pH beef was determined anaerobically (under vacuum) and aerobically. Four LAB from meat were inoculated separately onto sterile slices of lean beef. Inoculated samples were stored anaerobically at 2 degrees C for 10 weeks or stored aerobically in an oxygen permeable film at 7 degrees C for 10 days, with and without previous storage under vacuum at 2 degrees C. The LAB strains used were Carnobacterium maltaromicus (previously C. piscicola) LV17 and UAL26, Leuconostoc gelidum UAL187-22 and Lactobacillus sake Lb706. Storage life was determined by sensory panel evaluation of colour and odour. Under anaerobic conditions Lb. sake Lb706, inoculated at log 2 CFU/cm2, grew rapidly to reach maximum population within three weeks of storage. L. gelidum UAL187-22 also grew on the meat but at a slower rate. In contrast, growth of C. maltaromicus LV17 and UAL26 was unpredictable, achieving maximum population after 2 to 8 weeks. None of the test strains caused spoilage of the meat within the 10-week storage period under vacuum. When the test organisms were inoculated at an initial level of log 4 CFU/cm2, C. maltaromicus LV17 and UAL26 produced off-odours after 8 weeks of storage under vacuum at 2 degrees C. Under aerobic conditions at 7 degrees C, all four of the strains grew well on the beef samples. C. maltaromicus LV17 and UAL26 and Lb. sake Lb706 all caused off-odours and discoloration. The rate of aerobic deterioration in meat quality was faster with increased time of storage under vacuum. L. gelidum UAL187-22 could be a suitable antagonistic strain with the potential to extend the storage life of beef, stored anaerobically and packaged aerobically for retail sale, without producing undesirable sensory changes.