The current study aimed to develop an inactivation strategy for Clostridium perfringens spores in meat through a combination of spore activation at low pressure (100-200 MPa, 7 min) and elevated temperature (80 degrees C, 10 min); spore germination at high temperatures (55, 60 or 65 degrees C); and inactivation of germinated spores with elevated temperatures (80 and 90 degrees C, 10 and 20 min) and high pressure (586 MPa, at 23 and 73 degrees C, 10 min). Low pressures (100-200 MPa) were insufficient to efficiently activate C. perfringens spores for germination. However, C. perfringens spores were efficiently activated with elevated temperature (80 degrees C, 10 min), and germinated at temperatures lethal for vegetative cells (>or= 55 degrees C) when incubated for 60 min with a mixture of L-asparagine and KCl (AK) in phosphate buffer (pH 7) and in poultry meat. Inactivation of spores (approximately 4 decimal reduction) in meat by elevated temperatures (80-90 degrees C for 20 min) required a long germination period (55 degrees C for 60 min). However, similar inactivation level was reached with shorter germination period (55 degrees C for 15 min) when spore contaminated-meat was treated with pressure-assisted thermal processing (568 MPa, 73 degrees C, 10 min). Therefore, the most efficient strategy to inactivate C. perfringens spores in poultry meat containing 50 mM AK consisted: (i) a primary heat treatment (80 degrees C, 10 min) to pasteurize and denature the meat proteins and to activate C. perfringens spores for germination; (ii) cooling of the product to 55 degrees C in about 20 min and further incubation at 55 degrees C for about 15 min for spore germination; and (iii) inactivation of germinated spores by pressure-assisted thermal processing (586 MPa at 73 degrees C for 10 min). Collectively, this study demonstrates the feasibility of an alternative and novel strategy to inactivate C. perfringens spores in meat products formulated with germinants specific for C. perfringens.