The ability of Bordetella pertussis to adhere to cell surfaces has been demonstrated by adhesion to tissue culture cells and adhesion to chicken, hamster or rabbit trachea in organ culture. In this report a mouse lung assay for adhesion is described and the results obtained using two virulent strains of B. pertussis and their avirulent counterparts. These were a C modulation of one of the original virulent strains and a phase IV variant of the other virulent strain. Organisms were radiolabelled by adding 1 ..mu..Ci (37 K Bq) of (/sup 14/C)glutamic acid per 10 ml of culture medium before inoculation and incubation for 5 days. The lungs were washed by perfusion in situ with at least two volumes (1 ml) of sterile 1% (w/v) casamino acids. The percentage of the inoculated organisms retained in the lungs was determined, after removal of the lungs, by one of the following two methods: viable count or radioactive count. Results for both methods were expressed as the percentage of the inoculum retained in the lungs plus or minus one standard deviation.