The effect of salivary secretions on the hydrophobicity of Streptococcus sanguis was investigated. Pretreatment of the bacteria with paraffin-stimulated whole saliva resulted in a 79% inhibition of adhesion to hexadecane droplets. Column chromatography on Sepharose 4B and sodium dodecyl sulfate gel electrophoretic analysis indicated that the inhibitory activity of saliva resided in a fraction containing material of approximately 60,000 molecular weight. The active components, which we have termed the hydrophobic components (HC), bind to octyl-Sepharose beads. Pretreatment of S. sanguis with HC resulted in a dose-dependent inhibition of the streptococcus-hexadecane interaction that reached a maximum of 85%. Furthermore, HC effectively blocked the ability of S. sanguis to adhere to hydroxyapatite beads coated with either whole saliva or HC. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel analysis indicated that HC eluted from octyl-Sepharose consisted primarily of two proteins (60 kDa and 55 kilodaltons) which could be resolved by high-pressure liquid chromatography. Both of these proteins were able to inhibit the binding of S. sanguis to hexadecane in a dose-dependent manner; however, the 60-kilodalton molecule was slightly more effective in this assay. Amino acid analysis of these proteins showed that both proteins contained a high percentage of nonpolar amino acids. These findings suggest that certain components of saliva influence the interaction of S. sanguis with hydrophobic surfaces.