Surface static cultures of Mycobacterium bovis BCG contained cells embedded in an extracellular matrix, whose mechanical removal yielded free cells that were pressure disrupted and fractionated into cytoplasm and walls. Cell envelopes were either mechanically disrupted or extracted with detergents. Intracellular and extracellular fractions were analysed for proteins, polysaccharides, and antigen 6O (A60), a major complex immunodominant in tuberculosis. A60 was present in extracellular matrix, cytoplasm and walls: it represented a substantial portion of the proteins and polysaccharides of these fractions. While the protein/polysaccharide ratio varied according to the origin of A60 preparations, the electrophoretic patterns of A60 proteins (which accounted for the immunogenicity of the complex) remained unchanged. Western blots pointed to the proteins present within the 29-45 kDa range as the A60 components endowed with the highest immunogenicity level. Since the most heavily stained protein bands in SDS-PAGE patterns were located outside the region best recognized by antisera, a striking discordance was found between concentration and immunogenicity patterns of A60 proteins. The electrophoretic patterns of A60- and non-A60-proteins from cytoplasm were also different. A60 complexes in dot blots and some electrophoresed A60 proteins reacted with monoclonal antibodies directed against lipoarabinomannan (LAM), a highly immunogenic polymer of cell envelope. This contaminating compound was removed from A60 with organic solvents and detergents. SDS-PAGE and Western blot patterns of proteins from delipidated A60 were similar to those of native A60 proteins.