Sodium polyphosphate (SPP, average chain length = 13) increased the lag time of L. monocytogenes Scott A (Lm) in brain-heart infusion broth (BHI). Polyvalent metal ions (1–10 mM) reversed inhibition of Lm growth by 0.5% SPP (nominal 3.6 mM). 10 mM Ca2+ or Mg2+, 5 mM Fe3+, 2 mM Mn2+ or 1 mM Zn2+ added to SPP-containing BHI, pH 6.0, at 19°C resulted in growth comparable to control cultures. Fe2+ partially restored growth; Ni2+, Co2+, Cu2+ or Al3+ were ineffective. SPP inhibited growth at 28°C in BHI, pH 5.0, and Lm grew upon addition of Ca2+, Mg2+ or Mn2+, but not Zn2+ or Fe3+. Addition of 0.5% SPP to mineral-rich foods, such as pureed beef, green beans or sweet potatoes, did not delay growth.