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The effect of pediocin JD, a bacteriocin produced by Pediococcus acidilactici JD1-23, on the proton motive force and proton permeability of resting whole cells of Listeria monocytogenes Scott A was determined. Control cells, treated with trypsin-inactivated bacteriocin at a pH of 5.3 to 6.1, maintained a pH gradient and a membrane potential of approximately 0.65 pH unit and 75 mV, respectively. However, these gradients were rapidly dissipated in cells after exposure to pediocin JD, even though no cell lysis had occurred. The pH gradient and membrane potential of the producer cells were also unaffected by the bacteriocin. Whole cells treated with bacteriocin were twice as permeable to protons as control cells were. The results suggest that the inhibitory action of pediocin JD against L. monocytogenes is directed at the cytoplasmic membrane and that inhibition of L. monocytogenes may be caused by the collapse of one or both of the individual components of the proton motive force.