Cellular lysis properties of strains of Bacillus subtilis deficient in the synthesis of extracellular proteases was investigated. In all cases, extracellular protease deficiency was found to increase the extent of cellular lysis of batch cultured strains following the transition to stationary phase, the time at which extracellular degradative enzymes are secreted in large quantities. The data indicates that the major extracellular proteases, NprE and AprE, are primarily responsible for the control of this autolytic activity in B. subtilis and has implications for the use of extracellular protease-deficient strains as hosts for the production of heterologous proteins.