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The goal of this study was to determine inhibitory effect of palm kernel expeller (PKE) peptides of different degree of hydrolysis (DH %) against spore-forming bacteria Bacillus cereus, Bacillus circulans, Bacillus coagulans, Bacillus licheniformis, Bacillus megaterium, Bacillus pumilus, Bacillus stearothermophillus, Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus thuringiensis, Clostridium perfringens; and non-spore-forming bacteria Escherichia coli, Lisinibacillus sphaericus, Listeria monocytogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella Typhimurium and Staphylococcus aureus.A range of DH % (50–100) of PKE peptides was prepared using alcalase, and hydrolysis conditions were determined using response surface methodology (RSM). The influence of pH (6·5–10·5), temperature (35–65°C), enzyme/substrate ratio (1–5%) and substrate concentration (1–2%) were studied on the response of the DH. The antibacterial activity of different DH % of PKE peptides was tested by using disc diffusion assay and micro-broth dilution assay. According to the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) test on each of the PKE peptides of different DH %, the 70 DH % PKE peptide showed greater inhibitory effect compared to the 100 DH % PKE peptide against B. cereus, B. coagulans, B. megaterium, B. pumilus, B. stearothermophillus, B. subtilis, B. thuringiensis, Cl. perfringens, Lisinibacillus sphaericus and L. monocytogenes.The 70 DH % PKE peptides exhibited greatest overall antibacterial effect of the various peptides of PKE evaluated. Further research is needed to determine the mode of action of PKE peptides.Palm kernel expeller peptides, a natural plant product, effectively inhibited the growth of spore-forming and non-spore-forming Gram-positive bacteria. Potentially, PKE peptides could be used in food preservation and developed as antibacterial agent in the pharmaceutical industry.