Streptococcus equi is the causative agent of the purulent infection equine strangles. This disease is transmitted through shedding of live bacteria from nasal secretions and abscess drainage or by contact with surfaces contaminated by the bacteria. Disinfectants are effective against S. equi, but inactivation by environmental factors, damage to equipment, and toxicity are of great concern. Bacteriophage-encoded lysins (cell wall hydrolases) have been investigated as therapeutic agents due to their ability to lyse susceptible gram-positive organisms. Here, we investigate the use of one lysin, PlyC, as a narrow-spectrum disinfectant against S. equi. This enzyme was active against >20 clinical isolates of S. equi, including both S. equi subsp. equi and S. equi subsp. zooepidemicus. Significantly, PlyC was 1,000 times more active on a per weight basis than Virkon-S, a common disinfecting agent, with 1 microg of enzyme able to sterilize a 10(8) CFU/ml culture of S. equi in 30 min. PlyC was subjected to a standard battery of tests including the Use Dilution Method for Testing Disinfectants and the Germicidal Spray Products Test. Results indicate that aerosolized PlyC can eradicate or significantly reduce the S. equi load on a variety of materials found on common stable and horse-related equipment. Additionally, PlyC was shown to retain full activity under conditions that mimic a horse stable, i.e., in the presence of nonionic detergents, hard water, or organic materials. We propose PlyC as the first protein-based, narrow-spectrum disinfectant against S. equi, which may augment or supplement the use of broad-spectrum disinfectants in barns and stables where equine strangles is prevalent.