Eleven lactic acid bacterial strains were tested for autolysis ability and the presence of autolytic enzymes by renaturing sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays for the detection of lysogenic strains were performed. Autolysis in a buffer system was observed in Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus DSM 20080, L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus DSM 20081, Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis DSM 20088, B. angulatum DSM 20098 and Streptococcus thermophillus DSM 20617. Mitomycin C induction of prophage was demonstrated in B. longum subsp. infantis DSM 20088, B. angulatum DSM 20098, Lactobacillus acidophilus DSM 20242 and S. thermophillus DSM 20617. The presence of genes encoding known bacteriophage lysins was demonstrated by a PCR assay and correlated well with the autolytic phenotypes of the strains, indicating that PCR screening is useful in the rapid identification of autolytic strains.