Adenovirus (Ad) tropism is mediated in part through the fibre protein. The common coxsackie B virus and Ad receptor (CAR) was recently identified as the major receptor for subgroup C Ad serotype 5 (Ad5) and serotype 2 (Ad2) fibres. Effects of mutations in the Ad5 fibre gene were studied to assess domains of the fibre capsomer that could alter virus tropism without altering virus assembly and replication. All mutants that accumulated as fibre monomers failed to assemble with a penton base and proved lethal for Ad5 which suggests that the absence of infectious virions resulted in part from a defect in fibre penton base assembly. Cell binding capacity of all fibre mutants was investigated in cell binding competition experiments with adenovirions using CHO-CAR cells (CHO cells that have been transfected with CAR cDNA and express functional CAR). The results suggest that the R-sheet of the Ad5 fibre knob monomer contains binding motifs for CAR and that beta-strands E and F, or a region close to them, may also be involved in receptor recognition.