The antimicrobial efficacy of protamine on Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli was evaluated at concentrations from 50 to 10 000 mg ml-1 and pH levels from 5-5 to 8-0. The minimum inhibitory concentrations decreased with increasing pH. Protamine inhibited E. coli at all pH values while L. monocytogenes was inhibited at pH 6-5 and above. The antimicrobial ef®cacy of protamine decreased in the presence of negatively charged gelatine B but remained almost unchanged with addition of the positively charged gelatine A. Binding studies showed that the amount of protamine adsorbed to culture media components in tryptic soy broth and bacterial cells increased with increasing pH values. The increased efficacy of protamine at alkaline pH may be explained on the basis of an increase in electrostatic affinity for the cell surface of target cells. E. coli produced a protamine-degrading enzyme, however, was still susceptible to protamine.