Moraxella catarrhalis, a major nasopharyngeal pathogen of the human respiratory tract, is exposed to rapid and prolonged downshifts of environmental temperature when humans breathe cold air. In the present study, we show that a 26 degrees C cold shock up-regulates the expression of UspA1, a major adhesin and putative virulence factor of M. catarrhalis, by prolonging messenger RNA half-life. Cold shock promotes M. catarrhalis adherence to upper respiratory tract cells via enhanced binding to fibronectin, an extracellular matrix component that mediates bacterial attachment. Exposure of M. catarrhalis to 26 degrees C increases the outer membrane protein-mediated release of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin 8 in pharyngeal epithelial cells. Furthermore, cold shock at 26 degrees C enhances the binding of salivary immunoglobulin A on the surface of M. catarrhalis. These data indicate that cold shock at a physiologically relevant temperature of 26 degrees C affects the nasopharyngeal host-pathogen interaction and may contribute to M. catarrhalis virulence.