The polysaccharide capsule of Bacteroides fragilis has been shown to be important in the virulence of the organism. The capsular polysaccharide (CP) of B. fragilis has been extensively purified. Using a murine model of intraabdominal abscess formation, we have been able to demonstrate cellular immunity to the capsular polysaccharide of B. fragilis. Immunization of C57BL/10J mice with the CP over 5 wk prevents abscess formation when the mice are challenged with B. fragilis intraperitoneally. This immunity can be transferred to naive mice with spleen cells from immune animals. The immune cells bear Thy-1.2 and Ly-2.2 antigens. The immune response has been shown to be antigen specific, but not H-2 restricted. The possibility that these immune cells are suppressor T cells is discussed. The experimental system presented provides a model for the examination of the cellular interactions responsible for abscess formation and the cellular response to bacterial pathogens.

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