Two cold shock genes, cspL and cspP, have been cloned from two Lactobacillus plantarum strains. These genes, which are nonallelic, were present in all strains tested. The genes encode 66-amino-acid polypeptides related to each other and to the cold shock Csp family. Transcription of cspP rendered a single mRNA, while two cspL mRNAs were found with common 5' ends. The amounts of these transcripts increased moderately upon exposure of the cultures to cold.