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Fifty-six strains of mesophilic lactobacilli from hand-made cheeses made without starters have been isolated, identified and characterized. Of these, 21 strains were classified as Lactobacillus plantarum, 18 as Lact. casei subsp. pseudoplantarum, 10 as Lact. curvatus, five as Lact. casei subsp. casei, and two remained unidentified. The numerical classification of these strains, based on 80 different physiological and morphological characteristics, correlated well with the phenotypic classification. Most of the technologically important traits have been examined in these strains, which will allow the selection of some of them to be tested as adjunct cultures in the manufacture of dairy products.