In the present study, silver ions were incorporated into a poly-(l-lactide) (PLA) matrix by a solvent casting technique using different solvents and glycerol as plasticizer. The effect of the different formulations on the morphology, thermal, mechanical and color properties were first evaluated. Additionally, a thorough study of the silver ions release to an aqueous environment was also monitored over time by anodic stripping voltammetry and correlated with the antimicrobial performance against S. enterica. The incorporation of silver contents of up to 1 wt % did not affect morphology, thermal or mechanical properties of the films. A sustainable, antibacterial effectiveness was found for the films in liquid medium and a breakpoint of 10–20 μg L−1 silver was established under the stated conditions, evincing silver ion releasing technologies may be applied to liquid environments while complying with current legislation. This study provides insight into the structure properties relationship of these antibacterial polylactide materials of significant potential in coating applications. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2014, 131, 41001.