Bacillus cereus, Bacillus thuringiensis and Bacillus anthracis are closely related species that share a similar genetic background but occupy different ecological niches. Virulence plasmids bearing genes coding for toxins, may explain, at least partly, this specialization. We have compared by 2-DE in the early stationary phase of growth the extracellular proteomes of three strains of these species that have lost their virulence plasmids. Proteins expected to be secreted or to belong to the cell wall or to the cytosol were found in the three proteomes. For the cell wall and cytosolic proteins located in the extracellular space, the three proteomes were similar. Cytosolic proteins included enolase, GroEL, PdhB, PdhD, SodA and others. Cell surface proteins were mainly autolysins, proteases, nucleotidases and OppAs. In contrast, the secreted proteins profiles of B. cereus and B. thuringiensis were quite different from that of B. anthracis. B. cereus and B. thuringiensis extracellular proteomes both contained large amounts of secreted degradative enzymes and toxins, including nine proteases, three phospholipases, two haemolysins and several enterotoxins. Most of the genes encoding these enzymes and toxins are controlled by the transcriptional activator PlcR. The extracellular proteome of the pXO1-, pXO2-B. anthracis 9131 strain contained only one secreted protein: the metalloprotease InhA1, also found in the proteomes of the two other strains and possibly involved in antibacterial peptide degradation.