Lectin-carbohydrate binding is known to play an important role in a number of different cell-cell interactions including those between certain species of oral streptococci and actinomyces that colonize teeth. The cell wall polysaccharides of Streptococcus oralis ATCC 10557, S. oralis 34, and Streptococcus mitis J22, although not identical antigenically, each function as a receptor molecule for the galactose and N-acetylgalactosamine reactive fimbrial lectins of Actinomyces viscosus and Actinomyces naeslundii. Carbohydrate analysis of the receptor polysaccharide isolated from S. oralis ATCC 10557 shows galactose (3 mol), glucose (1 mol), GalNAc (1 mol), and rhamnose (1 mol). 1H NMR spectra of the polysaccharide show that is is partially O-acetylated. Analysis of the 1H NMR spectrum of the de-O-acetylated polysaccharide shows that it is composed of repeating subunits containing six monosaccharides and that the subunits are joined by a phosphodiester linkage. The 1H and 13C NMR spectra were completely assigned by two-dimensional homonuclear correlation methods and by 1H-detected heteronuclear multiple-quantum correlation (1H[13C]HMQC). The linkage of the component monosaccharides in the polymer, deduced from two-dimensional 1H-detected heteronuclear multiple-bond correlation spectra (1H[13C]HMBC), shows that the repeating unit of the de-O-acetylated polymer is a linear hexasaccharide with no branch points. The complete 1H and 13C assignment of the native polysaccharide was carried out by the same techniques augmented by a 13C-coupled hybrid HMQC-COSY method, which is shown to be especially useful for carbohydrates in which strong coupling and overlapping peaks in the 1H spectrum pose difficulties. The fully assigned spectra of the native polymer show that each of two different positions is acetylated in one-third of the repeating subunits and that the acetylation is randomly distributed along the polymer. The exact positions of acetylation were assigned by a carbonyl-selective HMBC method that unambiguously defines the positions of O-acetylation. The complete structure of the native polysaccharide in S. oralis ATCC 10557 is [formula: see text] Comparison of this structure with those previously determined for the polysaccharides of strains 34 and J22 suggests that the similar lectin receptor activities of these molecules may depend on internal galactofuranose linked (beta 1----6)- to Gal(beta 1----3)GalNAc(alpha) or GalNAc(beta 1----3)Gal(alpha).