A gene encoding a Streptocococcus mutans surface protein antigen has been isolated from a strain GS-5 gene bank constructed via the Streptococcus-Escherichia coli shuttle vector pSA3. This E. coli recombinant clone, designated 4B2, expressed S. mutans proteins, as shown by Western imunoblot analysis with a specific rabbit antibody to S. mutans surface antigens. Three bands were observed, including a 52-kilodalton (kDa) protein (pI 5.7), a 29-kDa protein (pI 4.2) and a 20-kDa protein usually present in lower amounts. The 52- and 29-kDa proteins both reacted with a monoclonal antibody to S. mutans antigen A, a 29-kDa protein which has been characterized and used as a vaccine for the prevention of induced caries in rodents and monkeys. The 52-kDa protein, but not the 29-kDa protein, showed a capacity to bind to a broad number of carbohydrate polymers. The results from this study suggest that the recombinant 4B2 clone specifies a 52-kDa protein which is a precursor to the 29-kDa antigen A.