In this study, some parameters for the production and caseinolytic activity of an extracellular thermostable acid protease from a thermoacidophilic archaeon Thermoplasma volcanium were determined. The highest level of growth and enzyme production were detected at pH 3.0 over an incubation period of 192 h at 60 degrees C. The pH optimum for the acid protease activity was 3.0 and the enzyme was fairly stable over a broad pH range (pH 3.0-8.0). The temperature for maximum activity of the enzyme was 55 degrees C and activity remained stable between 50 degrees C and 70 degrees C. These features could be of relevance for various biotechnological applications of this enzyme. Serine-(PMSF), cysteine-(DTT), metallo-(EDTA) and aspartate-(pepstatin) protease inhibitors did not inhibit the caseinolytic activity of the enzyme. Therefore, Tp. volcanium acid protease could be a member of the pepstatin-insensitive carboxyl proteinases. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.