The bacteriological quality during ripening of raw (RA), pasteurized (PA; 72°C, 15 s) and pressure-treated (PR; 500 MPa, 20°C, 15 min) goat milk assessed by enumeration of total bacteria, psychrotrophic bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae, lactobacilli, enterococci, Micrococcaceae and lactococci was evaluated. The high pressure treatment applied was as efficient as pasteurization in reducing the bacterial population of milk. Experimental cheeses were made from RA, PA and PR milks to study the microbialpopulation during ripening. Lactobacilli and lactococci were the predominant microbiota present during ripening in all the cheeses. There were no differences in numbers of starter bacteria during ripening. However, lactobacilli counts for RA milk cheese were significantly higher than for PA and PR cheeses in all the ripening stages studied. Micrococcaceae and enterococci remained at a secondary level, and no differences were observed between cheeses at the end of ripening. On the other hand, the number of Enterobacteriaceae decreased during ripening, but faster in PR milk cheese than in PA and RA milk cheeses. The results of this study suggest that goat cheese made from PR milk had similar microbiological characteristics to PA milk cheeses. © 2001 Academic Press.