The aim of this work was to detect the best conditions to preserve by freezing potentially probiotic strains of Lactobacillus rhamnosus isolated from food. Four strains isolated from Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, the commercial strain Lactobacillus GG and the type strain ATCC 7469T were used in the present study. Two different pre-incubation times (5 and 24 h), three protective media (Skim milk, Skim milk plus glucose and MRS plus glycerol) and two storage temperatures (-20 and -80 degrees C) were used for a preservation period of 90 days. A sensible loss of survival of the strains was detected and the acidifying activity decreased depending on the different factors analysed. Moreover, plate counts performed in MRS plus bile salts evidenced that a considerable percentage of cells suffers damages deriving from cold. This study showed that the growth phase of the cells plays an important role for the resistance to the storage by freezing. Finally, Skim milk had the best protective action, showing the highest activity at -80 degrees C.