LPSs play an important role in bacterial pathogenesis. In this study, the LPS expression of the seven known Bordetella species and its dependency on growth temperature was analysed by oxidative silver staining of proteinase-K-treated whole bacteria separated by Tricine-SDS-PAGE. The bordetellae were found to have extensively variable LPS in a species-specific way. In addition, the human and ovine Bordetella parapertussis strains exhibited host-specific LPS expression. LPSs from human B. parapertussis strains grown at 37 and 25 degrees C were distinct. Growth temperature also affected LPS production by several Bordetella bronchiseptica strains. In some of these cases, BvgAS, the global regulator of virulence factors, was involved in this regulation of LPS biosynthesis. In contrast, no evidence was found for the involvement of the Bordetella pertussis BvgAS system in regulation of LPS synthesis. The obligate human pathogens B. pertussis and Bordetella holmesii are closely related but were shown to produce immunologically distinct LPSs. These species are isolated from the upper respiratory tract and blood, respectively. This raises several interesting questions concerning the potential role of LPS as a virulence factor in the infection processes.