Antibacterial proteins are an important part of the innate immune system for all animals. They have been extensively studied in mammals, amphibians and invertebrates, but have received only scant attention in fish. Their expression and processing, however, provide a way of monitoring defence vigour during development or with seasonal changes in physiology. The aim of the present work was to identify and characterise antibacterial proteins in rainbow trout. In vitro analyses of extracts of the peripheral blood leucocytes, head kidney leucocytes and mucus from adult unstimulated (non-immune) fish showed marked antibacterial activity against Gram positive bacteria. Fractionation by ion exchange chromatography and RP-HPLC of head kidney extracts showed the presence of two forms of lysozyme but no constitutively expressed antimicrobial proteins of <10 kDa. By contrast, chromatographic analyses of mucus revealed at least four antibacterial proteins. Two are conventional lysozymes, a third is an unusual lysozyme-like protein with a low isoelectric point, and the fourth is a highly hydrophobic, cationic peptide of c. 3 kDa.