The attachment of pathogenic microorganisms to host cells and tissues is often mediated through the expression of surface receptors recognizing components of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Here, we investigate the ability of Borrelia spirochaetes to bind the ECM constituent, fibronectin. Borrelia lysates were separated by SDS-PAGE, transferred to nitrocellulose and probed with alkaline phosphatase-labelled fibronectin (fibronectin-AP). Five of six Borrelia species and four of eight B. burgdorferi sensu lato isolates expressed one or more fibronectin-binding proteins. Borrelia burgdorferi isolate B31 expressed a 47 kDa (P47) fibronectin-binding protein that was localized to the outer envelope based on susceptibility to proteinase K. The interaction of P47 with fibronectin was specific, and the region of fibronectin bound by P47 mapped to the gelatin/collagen binding domain. P47 was purified by affinity chromatography, digested with endoproteinase Lys-C, and the peptide fragments analysed by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectroscopy. A search of protein databases disclosed that the P47 peptide mass profile matched that predicted for the bbk32 gene product of B. burgdorferi isolate B31. The bbk32 gene was cloned into Escherichia coli, and the ability of recombinant BBK32 to bind fibronectin and inhibit the attachment of B. burgdorferi was demonstrated. The identification of BBK32 as a receptor for fibronectin binding may enhance our understanding of the pathogenesis and chronic nature of Lyme disease.