Aims: This study elucidates the mechanisms by which a nonbacteriocinogenic Carnobacterium piscicola inhibits growth of Listeria monocytogenes. Methods and Results: Listeria monocytogenes was exposed to live cultures of a bacteriocin-negative variant of C. piscicola A9b in co-culture, in a diffusion chamber system, and to a cell-free supernatant. Suppression of maximum cell density (0-3.5 log units) of L. monocytogenes was proportional to initial levels of C. pisciola (10(3)-10(7) CFU ml(-1)). Cell-to-cell contact was not required to cause inhibition. The cell-free C. piscicola supernatant caused a decrease in L. monocytogenes maximum cell density, which was abolished by glucose addition but not by amino acid, vitamin or mineral addition. The fermentate also gave rise to a longer lag phase and a reduction in growth rate. These effects were independent of glucose and may have been caused by acetate production by C. piscicola. 2D gel-electrophoretic patterns of L. monocytogenes exposed to C. piscicola or to L. monocytogenes fermentate did not differ. Treatment with C. piscicola fermentate resulted in down-regulation (twofold) of genes involved in purine- or pyrimidine metabolism, and up-regulation (twofold) of genes from the regulon for vitamin B-12 biosynthesis and propanediol and ethanolamine utilization. Conclusions: A nonbacteriocinogenic C. piscicola reduced growth of L. monocytogenes partly by glucose depletion. Significance and Impact of the Study: Understanding the mechanism of microbial interaction enhances prediction of growth in mixed communities as well as use of bioprotective principles for food preservation.