All virulent shigellae have large plasmids. Plasmid-associated genes encode the expression of membrane-associated proteins (MAP), some of which correlate with the ability to invade susceptible epithelial cells. These MAP are serologically related in all of the shigella serotypes and evoke an antibody response after infection. To determine whether the MAP have a significant role in protection, 24 monkeys were infected with virulent Shigella flexneri 2a. After recovery, one group (with controls) was rechallenged with S. flexneri 2a; another group (with controls) was fed Shigella sonnei. The animals that were rechallenged with S. flexneri 2a were protected, while those that were fed S. sonnei experienced the same incidence of disease as controls. No differences in serum immune response to MAP after primary infection with S. flexneri were detected in immunoblots using lysates of S. flexneri or S. sonnei or in ELISA using water extracts of these strains.