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The tolerance of 26 Bacillus species isolated from alkaline fermented foods, five other bacilli and nine non spore-forming bacteria to alkaline pH and ammonia was determined. All grew at pH 7, 8 and 9 in the presence of 930 mmol l−1 NH+4 at pH 7.0, and in the presence of NH3 concentrations up to 5 mmol l−1 at pH 7.0 and 8.0. At higher NH3 concentrations, growth of some of the bacteria was inhibited and at 500 mmol l−1 only B. pasteurii and B. pumilus grew. Bacteria from alkaline food fermentations included strains relatively sensitive to NH3 (inhibited by 50 mmol l−1) and relatively tolerant strains (grew in the presence of 300 mmol l−1) and there was no evidence that they were more tolerant to NH3 than bacteria not associated with these fermentations.