Cheese is a ready-to-eat food that may be contaminated on the surface by undesirable spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms during production, packaging, and postpackaging processes. Penicillium roqueforti is commonly found on cheese surfaces at refrigeration temperatures and is one of the most common spoilage fungal species. Consumption of cheese contaminated with Listeria monocyto genes can result in foodborne listeriosis. Therefore, cheese should be decontaminated at postprocessing stages. Pulsed UV light is a nonthermal method for food preservation that involves the use of intense short pulses to ensure microbial decontamination on the surface of foods or packaging materials. In this study, the efficacy of pulsed UV light for inactivation of P. roqueforti and L. monocyto genes inoculated onto packaged and unpackaged hard cheeses was investigated. Treatment times and the distance from the UV strobe were evaluated to determine optimum treatment conditions. Packaged and unpackaged cheeses were treated at distances of 5, 8, and 13 cm for up to 60 s. For P. roqueforti, maximum reduction after 40 s at 5 cm was 1.32 log CFU/cm(2) on unpackaged cheese and 1.24 log CFU/cm(2) on packaged cheese. Reductions of L. monocytogenes under the same treatment conditions were about 2.9 and 2.8 log CFU/cm(2) on packaged and unpackaged cheeses, respectively. The temperature changes and total energy increases were directly proportional to treatment time and inversely proportional to distance between the UV lamp and the samples. The changes in color and lipid oxidation were determined at mild (5 s at 13 cm), moderate (30 s at 8 cm), and extreme (40 s at 5 cm) treatments. The color and chemical quality of cheeses were not significantly different after mild treatments (P > 0.05). The mechanical properties of the plastic packaging material (polypropylene) also were evaluated after mild, moderate, and extreme treatments. A decreasing trend was noted for elastic modulus; however, no significant differences were found between untreated samples and those given mild and moderate treatments (P > 0.05). Overall, these results indicate that pulsed UV light can inactivate P. roqueforti and L. monocyto genes on the surface of hard cheeses.