The antimicrobial peptide, lactoferricin, is generated upon the gastric pepsin cleavage of lactoferrin and has many basic and hydrophobic amino acid residues essential for its biological activity. To investigate the structure-antimicrobial activity relationships, the basic amino acid-rich region of bovine lactoferricin (BLFC), RRWQWRMKKLG, was selected. Using chemically synthesized BLFC and its substituted peptides, the antimicrobial activities of the peptides were tested by determining the minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) of Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis and the disruption of the outer cell membrane of E. coli, and the peptide's toxicities were assayed by hemolysis. The short peptide (B3) composed of only 11 residues had similar antimicrobial activities while losing most of the hemolytic activities as compared with the 25 residue-long ones (B1 and B2). The short peptides (B3, B5 and B7) with double arginines at the N-termini had more potent antimicrobial activity than those (B4 and B6) with lysine. However, no antimicrobial and hemolytic activities were found in B8, in which all basic amino acids were substituted with glutamic acid, and in B9, in which all hydrophobic amino acids were substituted with alanine. The circular dichroism (CD) spectra of the short peptides in 30 mM SDS were correlated with their antimicrobial activities. These results suggested that the 11-residue peptide of BLFC is involved in the interaction with bacterial phospholipid membranes and plays an important role in antimicrobial activity with little or no hemolytic activity.