Twenty-nine Lactococcus lactis isolates from one traditional 24 h-old Pecorino Sardo cheese were characterized phenotypically, technologically and genotypically in order to assess the biodiversity within this wild microbial population. Two DNA-based techniques, plasmid profiling and PFGE, were used for the genetic typing of the isolates. All 29 isolates were characterized at strain level and eight different genotypes were recognized. In addition, by combining the results from plasmid profile analysis and PFGE, it was possible to identify closely related isolates probably belonging to the same clonal lineage. The dominant biotype was identified in the 24 h-old cheese, as were the strains believed to act as starters for the curd. Atypical lactococci, able to grow in 6.5% NaCl, were isolated. The results suggest that wild bacterial populations should be preserved in order to protect the traditional raw milk cheeses, and to select new starter strains for the dairy industry.