Enterococci and lactobacilli are ubiquitously found in the intestinal microflora of humans and animals. The aim of the present study was to determine the importance of bovine faeces as a source of these organisms in raw milk. One hundred and fifty six putative enterococci and 362 lactobacilli were isolated from bovine faeces (n=26), cows' teats, raw milk, the milking machine and the milking environment on one farm. The clonal relationships of each group were investigated using Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis and representatives of the different clusters were identified by repetitive DNA element (rep)-PCR fingerprinting, protein profiling, phenylalanyl-tRNA synthase (pheS) sequence analysis or 16S rDNA gene sequencing. Lactobacilli were present at approximately 3 orders of magnitude greater than enterococci in the bovine faeces. The majority of the bovine faecal enterococcal isolates were identified as Aerococcus viridans. Seven teat isolates belonged to a potential novel Aerococcus sp. and one bovine faecal isolate to a potential second novel Aerococcus sp. The lactobacilli present in the bovine faeces were predominantly Lactobacillus mucosae and Lactobacillus brevis, with small numbers of Lactobacillus plantarum. Only one Enterococcus (a strain of E. casseliflavus) out of 76 and one Lactobacillus (a strain of L. parabuchneri/kefir) out of 247 of the bovine faecal isolates was found in the milk. The major source of these bacteria in the milk was the milking equipment.