Five-hundred-and-six fresh isolates of rumen bacteria were tested for their ability to hydrolyse the synthetic substrate for dipeptidyl aminopeptidase type I, GlyArg-4-methoxy-2-naphthylamide (GlyArg-MNA), using a gel overlay technique. Twelve positive isolates were small Gram-negative rods which resembled Bacteroides ruminicola in their biochemical and morphological properties. SDS-PAGE of whole cell extracts indicated that two were similar to B. ruminicola strain B14, six resembled B. ruminicola strain M384, and four were similar to B. ruminicola GA33. All hydrolysed GlyArg-MNA, Ala2 and Ala5, and showed no activity against Leu-MNA. Ala3 and Ala2, but no Ala4, was produced from Ala5. The different groups had different, distinctive activity profiles. The two remaining positive isolates were Lactobacillus spp. with an exceptionally high Leu-MNA activity. It was concluded that, although different strains may only be distantly related, B. ruminicola forms the most important group of bacteria in the rumen to possess a dipeptidyl aminopeptidase type I activity.