Binding of 125I-labelled type-I collagen and 125I-labelled vitronectin (human serum spreading factor or S-protein) was studied using Staphylococcus aureus and coagulase-negative staphylococci of different species. Binding of collagen and vitronectin was time dependent for S. aureus ISP 546, and S. haemolyticus E 2498/86. Co-operative binding of vitronectin and collagen by staphylococcal cells was demonstrated. Binding to S. haemolyticus E 2498/86 was more rapid and was enhanced in vitronectin/collagen mixtures than for either protein separately. Furthermore, pre-incubation of staphylococcal cells with unlabelled collagen enhanced vitronectin binding. When cells of S. haemolyticus E 2498/86 were treated with pronase E, proteinase K, subtilopeptidase A or trypsin, vitronectin-binding was decreased by 50% or more, whereas collagen-binding was protease resistant. For the strains of S. aureus tested, both vitronectin and collagen binding were found to be protease sensitive. Type-I collagen peptides inhibited collagen-binding to S. haemolyticus E 2498/86, whereas vitronectin-binding was not affected perhaps indicating different receptors for these proteins. The binding of both collagen and vitronectin was shown to be reversible, since bound 125I-collagen and 125I-vitronectin were displaced after adding excess of the homologous protein.