An ability to interact with plasminogen or plasmin could provide micro-organisms with a mechanism for invasion. Thus, group A, C and G streptococci secrete streptokinase which binds and activates plasminogen. Some streptococci also express surface structures which bind plasminogen without causing its activation. Plasminogen-binding surface proteins were extracted from one group C and one group G streptococcal isolate. Both proteins were found to bind plasmin, fibrinogen and serum albumin in addition to plasminogen. Gene fragments encoding the streptococcal proteins were amplified by PCR and were subsequently cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. DNA sequence determination revealed for both genes open reading frames encoding proteins which contained repetitive domains and a carboxyl-terminal unrepeated region that were typical of M and M-like proteins. Though the amino-terminal regions of the group C and G streptococcal proteins demonstrated a rather high overall similarity between themselves, they were not similar to the variable regions of other M-like proteins with one exception: there was a 46% identity between the first 22 amino acids of the group G streptococcal protein and the corresponding sequence of PAM, the plasminogen-binding M-like protein of type M53 group A streptococci. Like the proteins extracted from the streptococci, the recombinant proteins bound plasminogen, fibrinogen and albumin. The three plasma proteins bound to separate sites on the streptococcal M-like proteins. Plasminogen bound by the group C and G streptococcal proteins was readily activated by streptokinase, providing evidence for a functional link between the secreted plasminogen-activator and proteins exposed on the bacterial surface.