The capsular polysaccharide (CPS) of Vibrio cholerae O139 synonym Bengal, which is thought to carry determinants of O-specificity, was isolated by phenol/water extraction followed by delipidation of the contaminating lipopolysaccharide at pH 4.2 and gel-permeation chromatography. The CPS contained D-galactose, 3,6-dideoxy-L-xylo-hexose (colitose, Col), 2-acetamido-2-deoxy-D-glucose, 2-acetamido-2,6-dideoxy-D-glucose (N-acetyl-D-quinovosamine, D-QuiNAc), D-galacturonic acid (D-GalA), and phosphate. The CPS was studied by NMR spectroscopy, methylation analysis, and selective degradations, including partial acid hydrolysis at pH 3.1 and dephosphorylation with aqueous 48% hydrofluoric acid, which both resulted in complete cleavage of Col. It was concluded that the CPS is built up of hexasaccharide repeating units containing inter alia D-galactose 4,6-cyclophosphate and having the following structure [structure: see text] These data basically confirm the structure of the V. cholerae CPS proposed on the basis of an NMR study [L. M. Preston et al. (1995) J. Bacteriol. 177, 835-838] and specify exactly the absolute configurations of the constituent monosaccharides and the position of the cyclic phosphate.