In a previous study, we described the development of a new specific serodiagnostic test for Lyme disease involving enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and a synthetic peptide, OspC-I. The OspC-I peptide is derived from part of the outer surface protein C (OspC) amino acid sequence of Borrelia burgdorferi and is located in the region conserved among B. burgdorferi sensu stricto or sensu lato isolates. In this study, we demonstrate that sera containing antibodies against OspC-I from patients with early Lyme disease had borreliacidal activity against isolates of three genospecies of Lyme disease spirochete, B. burgdoreferi B31, B. garinii HPI and B. afzelii HT61. However, the borreliacidal activity against B. burgdorferi, which has not been isolated in Japan, was weaker than that against the other species. Vaccination of mice with OspC-I induced the production of anti-OspC-I antibodies in serum with borreliacidal activity. The immune mouse serum had significantly higher levels of borreliacidal activity against HP1 and HT61, than against B31. Neutralization of borreliacidal activity with anti-IgM antibodies showed that the borreliacidal activity of anti-OspC-I antibodies in serum was due to IgM. Furthermore. mice vaccinated with OspC-I were protected against challenge with HPI and HT61. but not fully protected against infection with B31. These results suggest that OspC-I is not only a specific antigen for use in serodiagnostic tests for Lyme disease, but is also a potential candidate for a Lyme disease vaccine in Japan.