This investigation was undertaken to select antigenic variants of a Borrelia burgdorferi strain in vitro. The original strain BITS was cultivated in BSK medium supplemented with increasing concentrations of homologous hyperimmune serum raised in rabbits. After a few serial passages starting from a subinhibitory serum dilution of 1:800 in BSK up to 1:200, a variant named BITSv was obtained; it grew abundantly like the control culture in the presence of hyperimmune serum. Analysis of the antigenic pattern of the original and derived variants by Western blotting revealed that BITSv, compared to the original strain BITS, had lost the reactivity with the immune serum at the level of the oligosaccharide moiety. These experiments, designed to mimic the possible action of antibodies that arise during a Borrelia infection, suggest that lipopolysaccharides are surface located and that they play a role in the integrity of the outer membrane during the multiplication of Borrelia burgdorferi.