Samples of Rhizobium bacteroids isolated from pea nodule symbiosomes reacted positively with a monoclonal antibody recognizing N-linked glycan epitopes on plant glycoproteins associated with the peribacteroid membrane and peribacteroid fluid. An antiserum recognizing the symbiosomal lectin-like glycoprotein PsNLEC-1 also reacted positively. Samples of isolated bacteroids also reacted with an antibody recognizing a glycolipid component of the peribacteroid membrane and plasma membrane. Bacterial cells derived from free-living cultures then were immobilized on nitrocellulose sheets and tested for their ability to associate with components of plant extracts derived from nodule fractionation. A positive antibody-staining reaction indicated that both PsNLEC-1 and membrane glycolipid had become associated with the bacterial surface. A range of rhizobial strains with mutants affecting cell surface polysaccharides all showed similar interactions with PsNLEC-1 and associated plant membranes, with the exception of strain B659 (a deep-rough lipopolysaccharide mutant of Rhizobium leguminosarum). However, the presence of a capsule of extracellular polysaccharide apparently prevented interactions between rhizobial cells and these plant components. The importance of a close association between peribacteroid membranes, PsNLEC-1, and the bacterial surface is discussed in the context of symbiosome development.