Isolates of Bordetella parapertussis, recovered from sheep or man, were characterised by reaction with specific anti-Bordetella lipopolysaccharide monoclonal antibodies, production of filamentous haemagglutinin, fatty acid patterns, and antibiotic sensitivity. Generally, the isolates lay within one of four groups, with separation of the ovine isolates into two groups. Reactions with specific monoclonal antibodies against lipopolysaccharide separated the ovine isolates into these two groupings. Analysis of the cellular fatty acid compositions by cluster analysis differentiated between the human and the ovine strains and also showed variation within the ovine isolates. When the production of filamentous haemagglutinin was analysed in an ELISA system, a similar pattern emerged. Varying concentrations of filamentous haemagglutinin (11-429 ng (mg total protein)-1) were extracted from the human isolates and the one group of ovine isolates with no significant protein detected in the other ovine group. These studies demonstrate variation between and within B. parapertussis isolates recovered from two mammalian sources.