During outbreaks of group A meningococcal disease in Seattle, Wash., and Portland, Oreg., we studied the mucosal flora of the affected population and comparison groups to identify possible determinants of susceptibility and resistance to disease. Antimeningococcal immunoglobulin A can block the bactericidal activity of specific antibodies of other classes and has been associated with susceptibility in adults. We used immunoprecipitation and fluorescent-antibody techniques to detect mucosal microorganisms cross-reactive with group A meningococci that might have stimulated such antibodies. Cross-reactive strains of Bacillus pumilus and Streptococcus faecalis were found. Bacterial interference on mucosal surfaces has been shown to reduce susceptibility to other pathogens. With an agar overlay technique, we sought nasopharyngeal microorganisms that inhibited the growth of group A meningococci. Forty-five percent of subjects carried inhibitory strains representing at least nine different species. Inhibitory strains were less common (32%) in residents from 'skid row' areas (see D.J. Bogue, Skid Row in American Cities, University of Chicago Press, for a comprehensive definition of these areas) than in a comparison group that did not experience meningococcal disease (61%), suggesting that their presence may be associated with resistance to acquisition of meningococci or to meningococcal disease.