Nisin was first introduced commercially as a food preservative in the UK approximately 30 years ago. First established use was as a preservative in processed cheese products and since then numerous other applications in foods and beverages have been identified. It is currently recognised as a safe food preservative in approximately 50 countries. The established uses of nisin as a preservative in processed cheese, various pasteurised dairy products, and canned vegetables will be briefly reviewed. More recent applications of nisin include its use as a preservative in high moisture, hot baked flour products (crumpets) and pasteurised liquid egg. Renewed interest is evident in the use of nisin in natural cheese production. Considerable research has been carried out on the antilisterial properties of nisin in foods and a number of applications have been proposed. Uses of nisin to control spoilage lactic acid bacteria have been identified in beer, wine, alcohol production and low pH foods such as salad dressings. Further developments of nisin are likely to include synergistic action of nisin with chelators and other bacteriocins, and its use as an adjunct in novel food processing technology such as higher pressure sterilisation and electroporation. Production of highly purified nisin preparations and enhancement by chelators has led to interest in the use of nisin for human ulcer therapy, and mastitis control in cattle.