Prevotella (formerly Bacteroides) ruminicola is a numerous rumen bacterium which plays a significant role in the metabolism of proteins and peptides in the rumen. Measurement of the hydrolysis of synthetic aminopeptidase substrates by sonicated extracts and whole cells of different species of rumen bacteria indicated that P. ruminicola had the greatest range and specific activity of dipeptidyl peptidases among the species tested. Streptococcus bovis hydrolysed some dipeptidyl peptidase substrates to a lesser extent, and several species broke down Ala2-p-nitroanilide, including Ruminobacter amylophilus, Ruminococcus spp. and Veillonella parvula. Dipeptidyl peptidases, which cleave dipeptides from the amino-terminus of longer peptides, were much more active than aminopeptidases removing single amino acids in P. ruminicola. Ion-exchange chromatography of sonicated extracts of P. ruminicola M384 revealed at least four distinct activities: one hydrolysed Ala2-p-nitroanilide, ValAla-p-nitroanilide, Ala4and Ala5; another was an O2-sensitive activity hydrolysing GlyArg-4-methoxynapthylamide, ArgArg-4-methoxynaphthylamide, Gly5 and ValGlySerGlu, similar to dipeptidyl peptidase type I DPP-1); a third hydrolysed GlyPro-p-nitroanilide and GlyPro-4-methoxynapthylamide and was similar to dipeptidyl peptidase type IV XDPP-4); a fourth broke down LysAla-4-methoxynaphthylamide. All of the enzymes, and particularly those active against Ala2-p-nitroanilide and GlyPro-p-nitroanilide, were inhibited by serine protease inhibitors, and all except DPP-4 were inhibited by EDTA. Both DPP-1 and the enzyme hydrolysing LysAla-4-methoxynaphthylamide were inhibited strongly by iodoacetate. DPP-4 was inhibited completely by diprotin A. Competitive inhibition experiments suggested that DPP-1 was less important than the other enzymes in the breakdown of peptide mixtures.