A novel endogenous peptide cleaved from 197-213 AA of β-casein, named β-casein 197, was identified by tandem mass spectrometry. β-casein 197 constituted a significant proportion of the peptide content in preterm milk. This study investigated the antibacterial effects and mechanisms against common pathogenic bacteria. Six bacterial strains were selected for this study: Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Yersinia enterocolitica, Listeria monocytogenes, Klebsiella pneumonia and Bacillus subtilis. After synthesis, serial twofold dilutions of β-casein 197 were added to select for sensitive bacteria. The disk diffusion method and analysis of bacterial staining were used to identify antibacterial effect, while DNA-binding, scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy were used to explore antimicrobial mechanisms. Disk diffusion showed that E. coli, S. aureus and Y. enterocolitica were sensitive to the β-casein 197. In addition, live/dead fluorescent staining also confirmed antibacterial effects. Scanning electron and transmission electron microscopy revealed affected extracellular and intracellular structure for three species of bacteria, while a DNA-binding assay showed that the antimicrobial activity did not occur through DNA binding. This study suggests that β-casein 197 has antimicrobial activity against common pathogenic bacteria in newborns with infection. The peptide induced membrane permeabilization but did not bind to genomic DNA. Based on our findings, β-casein 197 has potential clinical value for preventing infections of premature infants.