Liquid packaging boards and blanks were examined for microbial contaminants. A total of 218 strains were identified and representatives of the most frequent species were characterized for their potential for food spoilage. Contaminants found were aerobic spore-forming bacteria, mostly Bacillus megaterium, B. licheniformis, B. cereus group, B. pumilus, Paenibacillus macerans, P. polymyxa, P. pabuli and B. flexus. Production of amylolytic, proteolytic, lipolytic and phospholipolytic enzymes was common. Approximately 50% of the B. cereus group strains were positive in the diarrhoeal enterotoxin immunoassay test or in the enterotoxin reversed passive latex agglutination test. Strains capable of growth at 6 degrees C were found among B. cereus group, P. pabuli, P. validus, B. megaterium and P. polymyxa. All b. licheniformis strains grew at 55 degrees C. The spores of B. licheniformis were most resistant to hydrogen peroxide. The B. cereus group strains were recognizable by fatty acid components not present in any of the other paperboard strains, 11-methyldodecanoic acid (13:0 iso) and trans-9-hexadecenoic acid (16:1 omega 7 trans), each contributing 7% or more to the total cellular fatty acids.