We have isolated two types of isolates having identical colony morphologies from stock cultures of two different Rhizobium meliloti strains. One isolate was agglutinated at a high-dilution titer (HA, highly agglutinable) of the alfalfa agglutinin and was sensitive to phage F20, and the other was agglutinated at a lower agglutinin titer (LA) and was sensitive to phage 16B. All LA isolates from the original slant produced nodules on alfalfa earlier than did HA strains from the original slant. When these HA and LA strains were mixed and used as the inoculum in both vermiculite and field soil in the laboratory, LA strains were always the predominant strains recovered from the nodules. LA strains were obtained from HA cells by selection for resistance to phage F20, and HA strains were obtained from LA cells by selection for resistance to phage 16B. All of the strains with the HA phenotype that were derived from LA strains by phage selection had the nodulation properties of the HA strains from the original slant. Two classes of strains with the LA phenotype were obtained from HA cells by phage selection. One was identical to the original LA strains from the slant, and the other had the nodulation properties of the HA strains. Thus, we have shown that some cell surface properties change the nodulation abilities of R. meliloti strains and, furthermore, that specific phages can be used to enrich for more competitive rhizobia.