The interaction between fish spoilage bacteria, Pseudomonas sp. and Shewanella putrefaciens, was investigated using fish extract and fish tissue as model systems. Isolates of Pseudomonas that produced iron chelators, siderophores, inhibited growth of S. putrefaciens in a fish-extract-agar diffusion assay but no, or only weak, antagonistic activity was seen when the medium was supplemented with iron. Sterile-filtered supernatant fluid from a siderophore-producing Pseudomonas grown in fish extract was inhibitory to S. putrefaciens if the number of Psudomonas was above 10(8) cfu ml-1. In contrast, supernatant fluids from siderophore-negative Pseudomonas isolates did not inhibit growth of S. putrefaciens. The inhibitory effect was, except for one strain of Pseudomonas, not seen in supernatant fluids from iron-enriched cultures of Pseudomonas sp. Finally, siderophore-producing Pseudomonas sp. lowered the maximum cell level of S. putrefaciens 1-2 log units from 10(9) to 10(10) cfu g-1 when the strains were grown on fish muscle blocks at 0 degrees C but the growth rate of S. putrefaciens was not affected.