The lipid A structure of the Gram-negative bacterium Helicobacter mustelae, a ferret gastric pathogen responsible for the onset of gastric diseases in its host, was investigated. Two variant lipid A structures were found in the same strain. One structure contained a bisphosphorylated beta-(1-->6)-linked D-glucosamine backbone disaccharide with hydroxytetradecanoic acid in amide linkages. Unlike the structure described for the lipid A of the related human Helicobacter pylori gastric pathogen, which contains a C1 phosphate moiety, this lipid A presented phosphate groups at both the C1 and C4' positions, and contained no octadecanoyl fatty acid, which is present in H. pylori. The second lipid A structure had a different fatty acid composition in that 3-OH C(16) replaced most of the amide-linked 3-OH C(14).