Pneumococcal surface protein A (PspA), a cell-surface protein present on all strains of pneumococci, has been shown to elicit protective antibody responses in mice in the absence of capsular polysaccharide. Whereas PspA is polymorphic, considerable cross-reactivity and cross-protection have been demonstrated among PspA proteins of pneumococci exhibiting different capsular and PspA serotypes. A gene segment encoding the nonrepetitive variable NH2-terminal portion of PspA has been cloned into three distinct recombinant Bacille Calmette-Guérin (rBCG) vectors, allowing for expression of PspA as a cytoplasmic or secreted protein, or a chimeric exported membrane-associated lipoprotein. All rBCG-PspA strains elicited comparable anti-PspA ELISA titers, ranging from 10(4) to 10(5) (reciprocal titers) in both BALB/c and C3H/HeJ mice. However, protective responses were observed only in animals immunized with the rBCG-PspA vaccines expressing PspA as a secreted protein or chimeric exported lipoprotein. In addition, anti-PspA immune sera elicited by the rBCG vaccines passively protected X-linked immunodeficient mice from lethal challenge with the highly virulent, encapsulated WU2 strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae and two additional virulent strains exhibiting heterologous PspA and capsular serotypes. These studies confirm previous PspA immunization studies showing cross-protection against heterologous serotypes of S. pneumoniae and demonstrate a potential for rBCG-based PspA vaccines to elicit protective humoral responses against pneumococcal disease in humans.