Lactobacillus plantarum 423, isolated from sorghum beer, produces a bacteriocin (plantaricin 423) which is inhibitory to several food spoilage bacteria and food-borne pathogens, including Bacillus cereus, Clostridium sporogenes, Enterococcus faecalis, Listeria spp. and Staphylococcus spp. Plantaricin 423 is resistant to treatment at 80 degrees C, but loses 50% of its activity after 60 min at 100 degrees C and 75% of its activity after autoclaving (121 degrees C, 15 min). Plantaricin 423 remains active after incubation at pH 1-10 and is inactivated when treated with pepsin, papain, alpha-chymotrypsin, trypsin and Proteinase K. Plantaricin 423 was partially purified and its size estimated at 3.5 kDa, as determined by tricine-SDS-PAGE. The mechanism of activity of plantaricin 423 is weakly bactericidal, as determined against Oenococcus oeni (previously Leuconostoc oenos). High DNA homology was obtained between the plasmid DNA of strain 423 and the pediocin PA-1 operon of Pediococcus acidilactici PAC 1.0, suggesting that plantaricin 423 is plasmid-encoded and related to the pediocin gene cluster.