Two Lactobacillus plantarum strains of human intestinal origin, strains 299 (= DSM 6595) and 299v (= DSM 9843), have proved to be efficient colonizers of the human intestine under experimental conditions. These strains and 17 other L. plantarum strains were tested for the ability to adhere to cells of the human colonic cell line HT-29.L.plantarum 299 and 299v and nine other L. plantarum strains, including all six strains that belong to the same genetic subgroup as L. plantarum 299 and 299v, adhered to HT-29 cells in a manner that could be inhibited by methyl-alpha-D-mannoside. The ability to adhere to HT-29 cells correlated with an ability to agglutinate cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and erythrocytes in a mannose-sensitive manner and with adherence to D-mannose-coated agarose beads. L. plantarum 299 and 299v adhered to freshly isolated human colonic and ileal enterocytes, but the binding was not significantly inhibited by methyl-alpha-D-mannoside. Periodate treatment of HT-29 cells abolished mannose-sensitive adherence, confirming that the cell-bound receptor was of carbohydrate nature. Proteinase K treatment of the bacteria also abolished adherence, indicating that the binding involved protein structures on the bacterial cell surface. Thus, a mannose-specific adhesin has been identified in L. plantarum; this adhesin could be involved in the ability to colonize the intestine.