Interactions of Shiga toxins (Stxs) and immune cells contribute to the pathogenesis of diseases due to Stx-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections in humans and facilitate the persistence of infection in asymptomatically infected cattle. Our recent findings that bovine B and T lymphocytes express Gb(3)/CD77, the human Stx-receptor, prompted us to determine whether the bovine homologue also mediates binding and internalization of Stx1. In fact, Stx1 holotoxin and recombinant B subunit (rStxB1) bound to stimulated bovine peripheral blood mononuclear cells, especially to those subpopulations (B cells, BoCD8(+) T cells) that are highly sensitive to Stx1. Competition and HPTLC-binding studies confirmed that Stx1 binds to bovine Gb(3), but different receptor isoforms with varying affinities for rStxB1 were expressed during the course of lymphocyte activation. At least one of these isoforms mediated toxin uptake. An anti-StxB1 mouse monoclonal antibody, used as a model for bovine serum antibodies specific for Stx1, modulated rather than generally prevented rStxB1 binding to and internalization by the receptors. The presence of functional Stx1-receptors on bovine lymphocytes explains the immunomodulatory effect of Stx1 observed in cattle at a molecular level. Furthermore, expression of such receptors by bovine but not human T cells enlightens the background for the differential outcome of STEC infections in cattle and man, i.e., persistent infection and development of disease, respectively.