We examined the mechanisms of adherence of Moraxella catarrhalis to nasopharyngeal epithelial cells. Fimbriae were detected by electron microscopy on most of the strains studied. A role of fimbriae in adherence was supported by the reduction in adherence by treatments denaturing the fimbriae or by antifimbrial antibodies. There was, however, no significant difference in adhesive capacity or hemagglutination between fimbriated and non-fimbriated strains. Furthermore, there was no correlation between hemagglutination and adherence. The possibility that receptor epitopes were provided by cell surface glycolipids was examined by thin-layer chromatography. Glycolipids from various sources, including nasopharyngeal cells were separated by thin layer chromatography plates and overlayed with bacteria. No binding was detected. The results suggest that lectin-glycolipid interactions do not explain the attachment of M. catarrhalis to epithelial cells.