The ability of hemagglutinating and poorly hemagglutinating strains of the gastroduodenal pathogen Helicobacter pylori to bind 125I-radiolabelled laminin was quantitated in a liquid phase assay. Although all strains bound laminin, some hemagglutinating strains were good binders of laminin (maximum of 31% binding), whereas poorly hemagglutinating strains bound intermediate to small amounts of laminin (minimum of 6% binding). Since a hydrophobic component of the bacterium has been reported to be involved in binding of laminin (T. J. Trust, P. Doig, L. Emödy, Z. Kienle, T. Wadström, and P. O'Toole, Infect. Immun. 59:4398-4404, 1991), we investigated the role of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in the interaction of both types of strains with laminin. Although the extent of inhibition varied among strains, laminin binding to hemagglutinating and poorly hemagglutinating strains was inhibited with homologous and heterologous smooth-form LPS. The ability of heterologous rough-form LPS to produce inhibition comparable to that shown by smooth-form LPS indicated that the O side chain of H. pylori LPS was not involved in the interaction. Further inhibition experiments with dephosphorylated LPS, isolated core oligosaccharide, and free lipid A suggested that a phosphorylated structure in the core oligosaccharide mediates the interaction of a hemagglutinating strain of H. pylori with laminin, whereas a conserved nonphosphorylated structure in the core oligosaccharide mediates the interaction of a poorly hemagglutinating strain. Furthermore, we showed that the interaction of H. pylori LPS with 125I-radiolabelled laminin in a solid phase assay was saturable, specific, and inhibitable with unlabelled laminin. It was postulated that the initial recognition and binding of laminin by H. pylori may occur through LPS and that subsequently a more specific interaction with a lectin-like adhesin on the bacterial surface occurs.