Certain Group A beta-hemolytic streptococci express a receptor that is capable of specifically binding the human plasma protease plasmin. Once bound, plasmin remains enzymatically active and is unregulated by its naturally occurring inhibitor alpha-2-antiplasmin (Lottenberg, R., C. C. Broder and M. D. P. Boyle, 1987. Infect. Immun. 55: 1914-1918). In this study certain characteristics of the interaction between plasmin and the receptor expressed on a group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus, strain 64/14, were examined. Binding occurred optimally at physiologic pH and ionic strength. The KD was 5 x 10(-11) M and there were approximately 800 receptors per bacterium. Mouse passage of strain 64 had no significant effect on the KD of the receptor. Binding of plasmin to the bacteria was inhibited by lysine and epsilon-aminocaproic acid in a concentration dependent manner. Similarly these amino acids would displace pre-bound plasmin from the bacteria. These findings suggest a role for plasmin's high affinity lysine binding site in the interaction of plasmin with the bacteria.