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Four spontaneous nisin-resistant variants R1, R1M, T5 and T7 of Pediococcus acidilactici UL5, a pediocin producer, were isolated on a nisin gradient. The minimum inhibitory concentration of Ped. acidilactici UL5 using an agar diffusion test was 0·25 ng, while that of R1, R1M, T5 and T7 were 10, 25 and more than 32·5 μg for the two latter, respectively. Nisin resistance phenotype was stable after 60 generations in MRS nisin-free liquid media and 10 consecutive transfers in solid medium. Pediococcus acidilactici UL5 and its nisin-resistant variants exhibited the same total DNA profile, level of production of pediocin and adsorption of nisin on the cell surface. The specific growth rate (μ) decreased with the level of resistance of the culture. Nisin-resistant variants and parental strain UL5 showed differences in sensitivity to antibiotics in which some act on the cell surfaces. Moreover, the fatty acid composition of the cell wall in nisin-resistant variants, compared with UL5, was different, particularly in C16:1 and C18:1. Results suggest that a change in structure/composition of nisin-resistant variants might be associated with nisin resistance.