Acid pH is an environmental stress often encountered by Brucella during both the "environmental" and the "pathogenic" stages of its life. We have investigated the behaviour of B. suis biovar 1 and B. canis in acid conditions. Growth at suboptimal pH was characterized by a dramatic reduction in growth yield due to an early onset of stationary phase. B. suis was more resistant to low pH than B. canis, which lysed at pH 4.6. Viable counts measured after a 4-h acid shock at pH 3.2 showed that the relative survival of B. suis was 1,000-fold greater than that of B. canis. An adaptive acid tolerance response (ATR) was induced in both species by culture at pH 5.8; however, while the acid-sensitive B. canis had more than a 2,000-fold increase in survival following acid shock at pH 3.2, the increase in survival of B. suis was only around 50-fold. The kinetics of the induction of ATR were followed: for B. suis, 1-2 h (1 generation) at pH 5.8 were required to induce acid tolerance (50-fold protection), and these levels remained constant over 24 h. B. canis became relatively acid-resistant after only 30-min exposure to pH 5.8. Levels of acid tolerance continued to increase and were maximal at 24 h. Stationary phase pH 7.2 cultures of either species did not exhibit acid resistance, suggesting that, like Salmonella, Brucella does not have an rpoS-controlled stationary phase acid resistance.