The binding of plasmin to Streptococcus uberis strain 0140 J was optimal in the pH range 5.0-5.5. Plasmin binding decreased exponentially with increasing NaCl concentration (0-0.8 mol l-1), reaching a minimum at NaCl concentrations exceeding 0.55 mol l-1. Neither K+, Mg2+ nor the metal chelator EDTA had any effect on the interaction. Plasmin binding was prevented, in a concentration-dependent manner, by the amino acids lysine, arginine and epsilon-aminocaproic acid. Bound plasmin was also eluted from the bacterial cell using the same amino acids. Bound plasmin was lost from the bacterium in a time- and temperature-dependent fashion, the rate of plasmin loss increased with increasing temperature over the range 4-55 degrees C, and the elution of plasmin from live and heat-killed bacteria was similar. Cell-bound plasmin was only partially inhibited by the physiological inhibitor alpha 2-antiplasmin whereas the serine protease inhibitor aprotinin, and the active site titrant p-nitrophenyl-p-guanidiniobenzoate, inhibited the activity of the cell-bound plasmin by more than 95%.