On most dairy farms teat dips are applied to the teats of cows either before or after milking in order to prevent pathogens from gaining access to the mammary gland via the teat canal. In the present experiments, a natural teat clip was developed using a fermentate containing the live bacterium Lactococcus lactis DPC 3251. This bacterium produces lacticin 3147, a two-component lantibiotic which was previously shown to effectively kill Gram-positive mastitis pathogens. Lacticin 3147 activity in the fermentate was retained at 53% of its original level following storage for 3 weeks at 4 degrees C. In the initial experiments in vitro, 10(5) colony-forming units/ml (cfu/ml) of either Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus dysgalactiae or Streptococcus uberis were introduced into the lacticin-containing fermentate. Neither Staph. aureus nor Sir. dysgalactiae could be detected after 30 min or 15 min, respectively, while Str. uberis was reduced approximately 100-fold after 15 min. Following these trials, preliminary experiments were performed in vivo on teats of lactating dairy cows. In these experiments, teats were coated with each of the challenge organisms and then clipped with the lacticin-containing fermented teat dip. Following a clip contact time of 10 min, staphylococci were reduced by 80% when compared with the undipped control teat. Streptococcal challenges were reduced by 97% for Str. dysgalactiae and by 90% for Str. uberis. These trials showed that the teat dip is able to reduce mastitis pathogens on the teats of lactating cows.