The immunochemistry and structure of enteric bacterial porins are critical to the understanding of the immune response to bacterial infection. We raised 41 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) to Salmonella typhimurium OmpD and OmpC porin trimers and monomers. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, immunoprecipitations, and/or Western immunoblot techniques indicated that 39 MAbs (11 anti-trimer and 28 anti-monomer) in the panel are porin specific and one binds to the lipopolysaccharide; the specificity of the remaining MAb probably lies in the porin-lipopolysaccharide complex. Among the porin-specific MAbs, 10 bound cell-surface-exposed epitopes, one reacted with a periplasmic epitope, and the remaining 28 recognized determinants that are buried within the outer membrane bilayer. Many of the MAbs reacting with surface-exposed epitopes were highly specific, recognizing only the homologous porin trimers; this suggests that the cell-surface-exposed regions of porins tends to be quite different among S. typhimurium OmpF, OmpC, and OmpD porins. Immunological cross-reaction showed that S. typhimurium OmpD was very closely related to Escherichia coli NmpC and to the Lc porin of bacteriophage PA-2. Immunologically, E. coli OmpG and protein K also appear to belong to the family of closely related porins including E. coli OmpF, OmpC, PhoE, and NmpC and S. typhimurium OmpF, OmpC, and OmpD. It appears, however, that S. typhimurium "PhoE" is not closely related to this group. Finally, about one-third of the MAbs that presumably recognize buried epitopes reacted with porin domains that are widely conserved in 13 species of the family Enterobacteriaceae, but apparently not in the seven nonenterobacterial species tested. These data are evaluated in relation to host immune response to infection by gram-negative bacteria.