Possibilities for biocontrol of biovar 3 Dickeya sp. in potato were investigated, using bacteria from rotting potato tissue isolated by dilution plating on nonselective agar media. In a plate assay, 649 isolates were screened for antibiosis against Dickeya sp. IPO2222 and for the production of siderophores. Forty-one isolates (6·4%) produced antibiotics and 112 isolates (17·3%) produced siderophores. A selection of 41 antibiotic-producing isolates and 41 siderophore-producing isolates were tested in a potato slice assay for control of the Dickeya sp. Isolates able to reduce rotting of potato tuber tissue by at least 50% of the control were selected. Isolates were characterized by 16S rDNA analysis as Bacillus, Pseudomonas, Rhodococcus, Serratia, Obesumbacterium and Lysinibacillus genera. Twenty-three isolates belonging to different species and genera, 13 producing antibiotics and 10 producing siderophores, were further characterized by testing acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL) production, quorum quenching, motility, biosurfactant production, growth at low (4·0) and high (10·0) pH, growth at 10°C under aerobic and anaerobic conditions and auxin production. In replicated greenhouse experiments, four selected antagonists based on the in vitro tests were tested in planta using wounded or intact minitubers of cv. Kondor subsequently inoculated by vacuum infiltration with an antagonist and a GFP (green fluorescent protein)-tagged biovar 3 Dickeya sp. strain. A potato endophyte A30, characterized as S. plymuthica, protected potato plants by reducing blackleg development by 100% and colonization of stems by Dickeya sp. by 97%. The potential use of S. plymuthica A30 for the biocontrol of Dickeya sp. is discussed.