The changes in the physiological state and metabolism of starter culture in 15kg Swiss–Dutch-type cheese blocks during two-stage ripening were studied. The analyses were performed on samples from three layers of cheese between the rind and the core. Cell membrane integrity, intracellular esterase activity and bacteria culturability were chosen as physiological state indicators. Cheese flavour development was determined by static headspace gas chromatography. During warm room ripening, the number of cells with intact cell membranes and displaying intracellular esterase activity increased. Lactic acid bacteria underwent resuscitation and regained their culturability. A lack of homogeneity within the cheese was noticed in relation to bacterial activity and the volatiles concentration.