The autolysis of lactic acid bacteria plays a major role during cheese ripening. The aim of this study was to evaluate the autolytic properties and peptidoglycan hydrolase content of dairy leuconostocs. Autolysis of 59 strains of dairy Leuconostoc was examined under starvation conditions in potassium phosphate buffer. The ability of dairy leuconostocs to lyse is strain dependant and not related to the species. The peptidoglycan hydrolase profile of Leuc. mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides 10L was analysed by renaturing gel electrophoresis. Two major activity bands migrating at 41 and 52 kDa were observed. According to the specificity analysis, strain 10L seems to contain a glycosidase and an N-acetyl-muramyl-l-alanine amidase, or an endopeptidase. The peptidoglycan hydrolase profiles of various Leuconostoc species were also compared. Several peptidoglycan hydrolase activities could be detected in the different Leuconostoc species. Further characterization of the peptidoglycan hydrolases will help to control autolysis of leuconostocs in cheese.