A bacteriocin-like inhibitory substance, salivaricin A, was purified from cultures of Streptococcus salivarius 20P3 and was shown by ion spray mass spectrometry to have a molecular mass of 2,315 ± 1.1 Da. Amino acid composition analysis demonstrated the presence of lanthionine, indicating that salivaricin A may be a member of the lantibiotic class of antibiotic substances. The sequence of eight amino acids at the N terminus of the molecule was determined by Edman degradation, and mixed oligonucleotide probes based on part of this sequence (GSGWIA) were used to detect the salivaricin A structural gene. A 6.2-kb EcoRI fragment of chromosomal DNA from strain 20P3 that hybridized with the probes was cloned, and the hybridizing region was further localized to a 379-bp DraI-AluI fragment. Analysis of the nucleotide sequence of this fragment indicated that salivaricin A is synthesized as a 51-amino-acid prepeptide that is posttranslationally modified and cleaved to give a biologically active 22- residue peptide containing one lanthionine and two β-methyllanthionine residues. The secondary structure of presalivaricin A was predicted to be similar to that of type A lantibiotics, with a hydrophilic α-helical leader sequence and a propeptide region with potential for β-turn formation and a lack of α-helicity. The sequence around the cleavage site of presalivaricin A differed from that of other type A lantibiotics but was similar to that of several bacteriocin-like inhibitory substances produced by lactic acid bacteria.