Stationary-phase Listeria monocytogenes cells that were either pH dependent acid adapted or not acid adapted were heat challenged at 60 degrees C in a two-level full factorial design for three variables. The three variables and the levels consisted of tryptic soy broth (TSB) and sterile cell-free culture supernatant (sterile TSB), the presence and absence of 1% added glucose, and pH 4.8 and pH 7. Non-acid-adapted cells were most heat resistant when challenged in TSB (mean decimal reduction times at 60 degrees C: D60 = 1.16 min). In the absence of added glucose, non-acid-adapted cells had similar D60-values for inactivations at pH 4.8 and pH 7; however, the presence of glucose caused non-acid-adapted cells challenged at pH 4.8 to be more heat sensitive (D60 = 0.65 min) than those inactivated at pH 7 (D60 = 1.03 min), indicating an interaction between glucose and pH. Overall, the significantly decreased heat resistance of the acid-adapted cells was due to the presence of glucose (D60 = 0.78 min without glucose, D60 = 0.59 min with glucose). Acid-adapted cells heat challenged in TSB had similar D60-values for inactivations at pH 4.8 and pH 7; however, acid-adapted cells in sterile TSB challenged at pH 4.8 (D60 = 0.52 min) had significantly lower heat resistance than did cells challenged at pH 7 (D60 = 0.76 min), indicating an interaction between the medium and pH. The L. monocytogenes survivor data were modeled to extract information on the frequency distribution of heat resistance within heat-challenged populations, and the frequency distribution characteristics of mean, mode, and variance were compared among treatment conditions. Significant differences in the frequency distribution data were compared with the D60-values. These data indicated that the presence and level of cross-protection is highly dependent on the physiological state of the cells and nutrient availability at the time of heat challenge. Such conditions should be considered to ensure that stressed pathogens in foods are destroyed or inactivated.