Milk is a source of antimicrobial systems such as xanthine oxidoreductase, which has been proposed to modulate the oral and gut microbiota of infants. Heat treatments are applied to milk to ensure its microbial safety, however, the effects of heat on this antimicrobial enzyme are not known. The effects of batch pasteurization (BP), high-temperature short time (HTST), and ultra high temperature (UHT) on kinetics of inactivation of xanthine oxidase and its antimicrobial properties were determined. Xanthine oxidase activity was preserved by HTST (100%). Partial (8%) and nearly complete (95%) enzyme inactivation were observed for BP and UHT milks, respectively. K m values of 100 μM and V max values of 6.85, 5.12, 6.31, and 0.40 μmol/min/mg were determined for xanthine oxidase in raw, BP, HTST, and UHT milks, respectively. These results demonstrate that xanthine oxidase maintains apparent affinity and activity for its substrate when milk is treated by BP and HTST and yet the enzyme is inactivated with UHT. To investigate heat treatment-induced alterations in the biological activity of xanthine oxidase, heat treated milks were compared to raw milk for their ability to inhibit the growth of S. aureus. Raw, BP, and HTST milk xanthine oxidase efficiently inhibited S. aureus growth. However, these antibacterial properties were lost when milk was subjected to UHT. These results demonstrate that HTST and BP preserves bovine milk xanthine oxidase activity compared with UHT and that, the judicious selection of thermal treatments could be exploited to preserve the antimicrobial properties of bovine milk.