The present investigation reports the production of monoclonal antibodies to antigenic determinants of the O-polysaccharide of Salmonella typhimurium lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and assesses the effectiveness of these antibodies in protecting C3H mice against the lethal effects of Salmonella infection. Hybridomas were generated by fusing spleen cells from (BALB/c X A/J)F1 (CAF1) mice hyperimmunized by i.v. injection with acetone-killed S. typhimurium SR-11 with X63-Ag8.653 murine myeloma cells. Hybridomas producing antibodies reactive with S. typhimurium SR-11 whole cells were subcloned, and seven of the resulting clones as well as one previously described clone were selected for use in the studies reported here. Monoclonal antibodies from these eight clones were of the IgG1 (1), IgG3 (6), or IgM (1) isotype and were specific for the O-polysaccharide region of Salmonella LPS, reacting with LPS from smooth S. typhimurium SR-11 and LT-2, but not with LPS from rough S. minnesota R60 (Ra), R345 (Rb), or R595 (Re). The effectiveness of each monoclonal antibody in protecting C3H/HeN and C3H/HeJ mice against the lethal effects of Salmonella infection was evaluated by comparing the median length of survival of groups of mice given antibody by i.p. injection before i.p. challenge with virulent S. typhimurium SR-11 to that of animals that received no antibody. Three out of eight monoclonal anti-O-polysaccharide antibodies, ST-1 (IgM), 10-5-47 (IgG3), and 10-5-6 (IgG3), provided significant (p less than 0.01) protection to C3H/HeN mice challenged with approximately 10(4) LD100 of Salmonella. Only antibodies ST-1 and 10-5-6, however, extended the median length of survival of C3H/HeJ mice beyond that of infected controls. Mouse antiserum prepared against S. typhimurium SR-11 was equally protective in C3H/HeJ mice. In an attempt to understand the contribution of antibody specificity to the relative differences in the protective capacities of the monoclonal antibodies, their reactivities with several Salmonella reference strains of different classical serotypes were examined. Although some differences in reactivity against the different strains were apparent, this approach was not adequate for defining the fine specificity of these monoclonal antibodies. The results of this study provide evidence that monoclonal antibodies with specificity to the O-polysaccharide region of Salmonella LPS can protect C3H mice against challenge with the homologous bacterial strain.