The aspartic proteinase, chymosin (EC 184.108.40.206) is the principal milk clotting enzyme used in cheese production and is one of the principal proteolytic agents involved in cheese ripening. Varietal differences in chymosin activity, due to factors such as cheese cooking temperature, fundamentally influence cheese characteristics. Furthermore, much chymosin is lost in whey, and further processing of this by-product may require efficient inactivation of this enzyme, with minimal effects on whey proteins. In the first part of this study, the thermal inactivation kinetics of Maxiren 15 (a recombinant chymosin preparation) were studied in skim milk ultrafiltration permeate, whole milk whey and skim milk whey. Inactivation of chymosin in these systems (at pH 6.64) followed first order kinetics with a D45.5 value of 100 +/- 21 min and a z-value of 5.9 +/- 0.3 degrees C. D-Values increased linearly with decreasing pH from 6.64 to 6.2, while z-values decreased as pH decreased from 6.64 to 6.4, but were similar at pH 6.4 and 6.2. Subsequent determination of chymosin activity during manufacture of Cheddar and Swiss-type cheese showed good correlations between predicted and experimental values for thermal inactivation of chymosin in whey. However, both types of cheese curd exhibited relatively constant residual chymosin activity throughout manufacture, despite the higher cooking temperature applied in the manufacture of Swiss cheese. Electrophoretic analysis of slurries made from Cheddar and Swiss cheese indicated decreased proteolysis due to chymosin activity during storage of the Swiss cheese slurry, but hydrolysis of sodium caseinate by coagulant extracted from both cheese types indicated similar levels of residual chymosin activity. This may suggest that some form of conformational change other than irreversible thermal denaturation of chymisin takes place in cheese curd during cooking, or that some other physico-chemical difference between Swiss and Cheddar cheese controls the activity of chymosin during ripening.