The antibacterial properties of the indigenous microflora of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss Walbaum) and the potential use of inhibitory bacteria as fish probiotics were investigated. A total of 1018 bacteria and yeasts were isolated on tryptone soy agar (TSA) from skin, gills and intestine. Forty-five of these inhibited growth of the fish pathogenic bacterium Vibrio anguillarum in a well diffusion assay. The antagonism was most prominent among Pseudomonas spp., as 28 (66%) of the antagonistic bacteria belonged to this genus, despite constituting only 15% of the total tested flora. As pseudomonads are typically siderophore producers, chrome azurol S (CAS) agar was used as a semi-selective medium for isolation of antagonistic bacteria. On this medium, 75% of the iron-chelating strains were inhibitory to V. anguillarum. Eight strains out of a subset of 11 antagonists caused a 3–6 log unit reduction in the density of V. anguillarum[measured by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detection in a most probable number (MPN) regimen] in a broth co-culture assay. Survival of rainbow trout infected with vibriosis was improved 13–43% by six out of nine antagonistic strains tested in vivo. All disease-protecting strains were pseudomonads, isolated from CAS plates, whereas two Carnobacterium spp. that were antagonistic in in vitro well diffusion assays did not alter the accumulated mortality of rainbow trout. The addition of live bacterial cultures to fish-rearing water may thus improve survival of the fish; however, in vitro antagonism could not completely predict an in vivo effect. Further studies on the underlying mechanism of activity are required to design appropriate selection criteria for fish probiotic bacteria.