Streptococcus parasanguis is a primary colonizer of the tooth surface and plays a pivotal role in the formation of dental plaque. The fimbriae of S. parasanguis are important in mediating adhesion to saliva-coated hydroxylapatite (SHA), an in vitro tooth adhesion model. The Fap1 adhesin has been identified as the major fimbrial subunit, and recent studies suggest that Fap1 is a glycoprotein. Monosaccharide analysis of Fap1 purified from the culture supernatant of S. parasanguis indicated the presence of rhamnose, glucose, galactose, N-acetylglucosamine and N-acetylgalactosamine. A glycopeptide moiety was isolated from a pronase digest of Fap1 and purified by immunoaffinity chromatography. The monosaccharide composition of the purified glycopeptide was similar to that of the intact molecule. The functionality of the glycan moiety was determined using monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) specific for the intact Fap1 glycoprotein. These antibodies were grouped into two categories based on their ability to block adhesion of S. parasanguis to SHA and their corresponding specificity for either protein or glycan epitopes of the Fap1 protein. 'Non-blocking' MAb epitopes were mapped to unique protein sequences in the N-terminus of the Fap1 protein using non-glycosylated recombinant Fap1 proteins (rFap1 and drFap1) expressed in Escherichia coli. In contrast, the 'blocking' antibodies did not bind to the recombinant Fap1 proteins, and were effectively competed by the binding to the purified glycopeptide. These data suggest that the 'blocking' antibodies are specific for the glycan moiety and that the adhesion of S. parasanguis is mediated by sugar residues associated with Fap1.