Isolates of 85 bacteria and 94 streptomycete and 35 nonstreptomycete actinomycetes were obtained from a lettuce-growing field in Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates, on colloidal chitin agar, and screened for their ability to produce chitinase. Twenty-three bacteria and 38 streptomycete and 15 nonstreptomycete actinomycete isolates produced high levels of chitinase and were examined in vitro for their ability to suppress the growth of Sclerotinia minor, a pathogen causing basal drop disease of lettuce. The three most suppressive isolates were examined further for their production of beta-1,3-glucanase and antifungal activity as well as their ability to colonize the roots and rhizosphere of lettuce in vitro and in planta. The three isolates, Serratia marcescens, Streptomyces viridodiasticus and Micromonospora carbonacea, significantly reduced the growth of S. minor in vitro, and produced high levels of chitinase and beta-1,3-glucanase. Streptomyces viridodiasticus also produced antifungal metabolite(s) that significantly reduced the growth of the pathogen in vitro. When the pathogen was presented as the sole carbon source, all three isolates caused extensive hyphal plasmolysis and cell wall lysis. Serratia marcescens and St. viridodiasticus were competent to varying degrees in colonizing the roots of lettuce seedlings after 8 days on agar plates and the rhizosphere within 14 days in pots, with their competency being superior to that of M. carbonacea. All three isolates, individually or in combination, were antagonistic to S. minor and significantly reduced incidence of disease under controlled glasshouse conditions.