Screening of strains isolated from red wine undergoing malolactic fermentation allowed the identification of lactic acid bacteria able to degrade arginine. A denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis approach, using the rpoB gene as the molecular target, was developed in order to characterize the isolated strains. Several strains were identified as Lactobacillus plantarum and were typed by RAPD-PCR with several randomly designed primers. Almost all of the L. plantarum strains identified were able to produce citrulline and ammonia, suggesting that the ability of L. plantarum to degrade arginine is a common feature in wine. During the characterization of the newly identified L. plantarum strains, the presence of genes coding for the arginine deiminase (ADI) pathway was observed in the strains able to produce citrulline, while the lack of this genes was observed in strain unable to produce citrulline. These results suggest that the degradation of arginine in L. plantarum is probably strain-dependent.