Fourteen freshly isolated strains of Streptococcus sanguis were obtained from the dental plaque of 5 healthy adults. Whole saliva was collected concomitant with the plaque isolates from the 5 subjects, and a second whole saliva sample was collected 10 wk later. All possible combinations of the first 5 saliva samples, the second 5 saliva samples, and 14 strains of bacteria were tested for aggregation. Of the 140 combinations examined, 108 of 140 (77%) of the strains aggregated with the first saliva samples and 95 of 140 (68%) aggregated with the second saliva samples. Overall, 72% of the strains aggregated with both the first and second saliva samples. Removal of immunoglobulin A (IgA) from these same salivas resulted in 38 of 108 (35%) of the aggregates decreasing in intensity with the first saliva samples and 27 of 95 (29%) of the aggregates decreasing in intensity with the second saliva samples. No aggregates increased in intensity with saliva samples when IgA had been removed. Removal of IgA from saliva also resulted in a mean decrease of 46% in adherence of S. sanguis to hydroxyapatite coated with the IgA-deficient saliva. Several strains of S. sanguis were shown to aggregate strongly with human salivary and colostral IgA. In addition, S. sanguis strain S7 showed a 31% stimulation of adherence to hydroxyapatite precoated with human salivary IgA over the uncoated controls. Stepwise removal of IgA from saliva resulted in a decrease in aggregation intensity from strong (4+) to weak (1+ to 2+). Similarly, the adherence of S. sanguis to hydroxyapatite coated with these saliva samples decreased linearly as the salivary IgA was depleted. Alternatively, the addition of a small quantity of salivary IgA (20 μg/ml) to progressively diluted saliva maintained a high level of adherence and strong aggregation until the saliva dilutions reached between 1:8 in the adherence experiments and 1:32 for the aggregations. These data indicate that salivary IgA may play an important role in the microbial ecology of human dental plaque formation.