The immunoglobulin site(s) that mediates the alternative mechanism of interaction between immunoglobulins and staphylococcal protein A (SpA) was studied by using a monoclonal human IgM. Several IgM fragments were tested for their inhibitory effect in a competitive binding assay of 125I-IgM to SpA. Only those fragments containing Fab mu pieces showed some inhibitory activity. The reactivity of the Fab mu region was retained in some of its subfragments, such as Fv or the VH domain, unlike isolated light chains or VL domains. Furthermore, antibodies specific for the VH domain completely inhibited the SpA-IgM interaction. These results indicate that the alternative SpA-binding site of IgM is located in VH regions.