Adherence of intestinal pathogens, including Escherichia coli O157:H7, to human intestinal epithelial cells is a key step in pathogenesis. Probiotic bacteria, including Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 inhibit the adhesion of E. coli O157:H7 to epithelial cells, a process which may be related to specific components of the bacterial surface. Surface-layer proteins (Slps) are located in a paracrystalline layer outside the bacterial cell wall and are thought to play a role in tissue adherence. However, the ability of S-layer protein extract derived from probiotic bacteria to block adherence of enteric pathogens has not been investigated. Human epithelial (HEp-2 and T84) cells were treated with S-layer protein extract alone, infected with E. coli O157:H7, or pretreated with S-layer protein extract prior to infection to determine their importance in the inhibition of pathogen adherence. The effects of S-layer protein extracts were characterized by phase-contrast and immunofluorescence microscopy and measurement of the transepithelial electrical resistance of polarized monolayers. Pre-treatment of host epithelial cells with S-layer protein extracts prior to E. coli O157:H7 infection decreased pathogen adherence and attaching-effacing lesions in addition to preserving the barrier function of monolayers. These in vitro studies indicate that a non-viable constituent derived from a probiotic strain may prove effective in interrupting the infectious process of an intestinal pathogen.