The stimulation by cholera toxin of adenylate cyclase in Chinese hamster ovarian cells could be inhibited by various ligands. The latter have been shown to contain the structural oligosaccharide entities required for binding to cholera toxin, established as Galbeta1 leads to 3GalNAcbeta1 leads to 4Gal3 comes from 2alphaNeuAc. The different inhibitory potency of the ligands thereby correlates with the size of the aggregates formed with the toxin, which in turn depends on the valency of the ligands. The conclusion is drawn from a comparison of the interaction of cholera toxin and its B-protomer with ganglioside II3NeuAc-GgOse4-Cer, the newly synthesized bis-(monosialo-gangliotetraityl)amine and monosialogangliotetraose. In a double diffusion test cholera toxin B-protomer precipitated with the ganglioside II3 NeuAcGgOSE4-Cer and the divalent ligand bis(monosialo-gangliotetraityl)amine, suggesting the formation of high molecular weight aggregates, whereas no precipitation was observed with the monovalent monosialo-gangliotetraose. By ultracentrifugation analysis, aggregate formation of the cholera toxin B-protomer could be demonstrated with the ganglioside II3 NeuAc-GgOse4-Cer and bis(monosialo-gangliotetraityl)amine at a concentration at which the ganglioside was assumed to be monodisperse. Ganglioside/cholera toxin B-protomer complexes sediment faster than those of the toxin and bis(monosialo-gangliotetraityl)amine, suggesting higher aggregation of cholera toxin B-protomer with the former. On the other hand, no sedimentation with monosialo-gangliotetraose was observed. By equilibrium displacement dialysis, however, a comparable high affinity of binding to cholera toxin B-protomer of both the mono- and divalent oligosaccharides was demonstrated. Furthermore, values for the maximal concentration of the bound ligand from these binding experiments with cholera toxin B-protomer established molar ratios of ligand to protein of 4 to 1 and 2 to 1 for monosialo-gangliotetraose and bis(monosialo-gangliotetraityl)amine, respectively. From the results it is concluded that the lipophilic moiety of the ganglioside is not directly involved in the binding process to the toxin protein but leads to an oligovalency of this ligand, due to formation of micellar or submicellar structures.