A key factor in the biology of Francisella spp. is lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Francisella LPS has many unique structural properties and poorly activates proinflammatory responses due to its lack of interaction with toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). The LPS of this organism can be modified by various carbohydrates including glucose, mannose and galactosamine, which affect various aspects of virulence. Spontaneously occurring colony variants of F. tularensis have altered LPS. This altered LPS may account for the novel phenotypes of these variants that include effects on susceptibility to killing by normal human serum, intracellular survival and animal virulence. Mutants devoid of O-antigen (directed mutants in O-antigen biosynthetic genes) show reduced intracellular survival and mouse virulence. Thus, this surface component is important in F. tularensis pathogenesis, and the inability of the LPS to alarm the immune system coupled with its frequent modification/alteration likely aid the success of this pathogen during human infection.