The binding of fibronectin to Staphylococci exhibits the properties of a ligand-receptor interaction and has been proposed to mediate bacterial adherence to host tissues. To localize staphylococcal-binding sites in fibronectin, the protein was subjected to limited proteolysis and, of the generated fragments, Staphylococci appeared to preferentially bind to the N-terminal fragment. Different fibronectin fragments were isolated and tested for their ability to inhibit 125I-fibronectin binding to Staphylococci. The results indicate that only the N-terminal region effectively competed for fibronectin binding. However, when isolated fragments were adsorbed to microtiter wells, we found that two distinct domains, corresponding to the N-terminal fragment and to the heparin-binding peptide mapping close to the C-terminal end of fibronectin, promoted the attachment of both Staphylococcus aureus Newman and coagulase-negative strain of Staphylococcus capitis 651. These same domains were recognized by purified 125I-labeled staphylococcal receptor, either when immobilized on microtiter wells or probed after adsorption onto nitrocellulose membrane. The heparin-binding domain is comprised of type-III-homology repeats 14, 15 and 16. To determine which repeats participate in this interaction, we isolated and tested repeats type III14 and type III16. We found that the major staphylococcal binding site is located in repeat type III14. The staphylococcal receptor bound the N-terminal domain of fibronectin with a KD of 1.8 nM, whereas the dissociation constant of the receptor molecule for the internal heparin-binding domain was 10 nM. Since the fusion protein ZZ-FR, which contains the active sequences of fibronectin receptor (D1-D3) bound only to the N-terminus, it is reasonable to assume that the bacterial receptor may have additional binding sites outside the D domains, capable of interacting with the internal heparin-binding domain of fibronectin.