Abstract Lactobacillus helveticus exhibits a great biodiversity in terms of protease gene content, with 1 to 4 cell envelope proteinases. Among them, proteinases PrtH and PrtH2 were shown to have different cleavage specificity on pure αs1-casein. The aim of this work was to investigate the proteolytic activity of 2L. helveticus strains in cheese matrix: ITGLH77 (PrtH2 only) and ITGLH1 (at least 2 proteinases, PrtH and PrtH2). Cell viability, proteolysis, autolysis, and stretchability of experimental Emmental cheeses were measured during ripening. The peptides identified by mass spectrometry showed very different profiles in the 2 cheeses. Regardless of the casein origin, the number of different peptides containing more than 20 amino acids was greater in cheeses manufactured with strain ITGLH77. This accumulation of large peptides, including those from αs1- and αs2-caseins, was in agreement with the lower overall extent of proteolysis obtained in ITGLH77 cheeses, which can be attributed to the presence of one cell envelope proteinase of the lactobacilli strains or lesser release of intracellular peptidases into the cheese aqueous phase. In parallel, stretchability was measured throughout ripening time. Emmental strands observed by confocal laser scanning microscopy showed microstructure similar to that of mozzarella strands. Stretchability was correlated with a specific type of peptide (hydrophobic), as shown by principal component analysis, and with a lower degree of proteolysis.