Streptococci have a vast repertoire of adherence properties which include binding to human tissue components, epithelial cells and to other bacterial cells. These interactions are determined by the expression of cell-surface receptors some of which are species-specific. In the oral streptococci, two families of surface protein receptors with highly conserved amino acid sequences have been identified. The antigen I/II family of polypeptides are wall-associated high molecular mass proteins (158-166 kDa) with several binding functions that may be attributed to different domains of the receptor molecules. The LraI family of polypeptides are surface-associated lipoproteins (32-33 kDa) involved in adherence of streptococci to salivary glycoprotein pellicle and to oral Actinomyces. A region of amino acid sequence similarity is evident amongst members of the two protein families in Streptococcus gordonii. Ligand-binding specificities of these receptor polypeptides may account for species-specific adherence and site-directed colonization of streptococci within the human oral cavity.