Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis was used to analyze the lipopolysaccharides of typical and atypical strains of the fish pathogen Aeromonas salmonicida. 32P intrinsically radiolabeled lipopolysaccharide in sarcosinate-extracted outer membrane preparations, lipopolysaccharide stained by silver in proteinase K-digested outer membrane preparations and whole cell lysates, as well as purified lipopolysaccharide, displayed O-polysaccharide chains which were unusually homogeneous with respect to chain length. Chemical analysis further revealed that the sugar composition of the smooth lipopolysaccharide purified from three typical strains was very similar. Immunoblotting and immunofluorescent staining with both polyclonal and monoclonal antibody showed that the O-polysaccharide chains were strongly immunogenic and were antigenically cross-reactive on typical and atypical strains from diverse origins. Immunofluorescence analysis and phage binding studies demonstrated that a number of these O-polysaccharide chains traversed the surface protein array of virulent strains of A. salmonicida and were exposed on the cell surface.