Salmonella typhimurium and enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) were found to adhere to the brush border of differentiated human intestinal epithelial Caco-2 cells in culture, whereas Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and Listeria monocytogenes adhered to the periphery of undifferentiated Caco-2 cells. All these enterovirulent strains invaded the Caco-2 cells. Using a heat-killed human Lactobacillus acidophilus (strain LB) which strongly adheres both to undifferentiated and differentiated Caco-2 cells, we have studied inhibition of cell association with and invasion within Caco-2 cells by enterovirulent bacteria. Living and heat-killed Lactobacillus acidophilus strain LB inhibited both cell association and invasion of Caco-2 cells by enterovirulent bacteria in a concentration-dependent manner. The mechanism of inhibition of both adhesion and invasion appears to be due to steric hindrance of human enterocytic pathogen receptors by whole-cell lactobacilli rather than to a specific blockade of receptors.