The purpose of this study was to generate highly specific serological reagents for the quantitative identification of Actinomyces naeslundii in clinical samples, in particular dental plaque. Balb/c mice were immunized with pasteurized human A. naeslundii strains representing different genospecies and serotypes. Ten hybrid cell lines secreting monoclonal antibodies reactive with A. naeslundii were isolated and characterized. Antibody specificity was determined by indirect immunofluo-rescence and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using strains from 59 species and by immunofluorescence analyses of supragingival plaque from 10 gingivitis patients. Nine monoclonal antibodies reacted selectively with A. naeslundii, whereas one additionally bound to Actinomyces israelii. They recognized at least nine different epitopes with characteristic expression patterns among the test strains. Six clusters of antigenically unique or closely related strains could be distinguished. Clusters 1, 4, and 5 represented by 12, 18, and 5 strains, respectively, comprised over 80% of the A. naeslundii strains tested. All reference strains for genospecies 1 grouped with cluster 1. Strains associated with genospecies 2 fell into clusters 4 and 5. Tests with mutant strains indicated that three monoclonal antibodies recognize type 2 and one type 1 fimbriae of genospecies 2. Only four isolates grouped with clusters 2 and 3 characterized by the expression of cluster-specific antigens. Interestingly, cluster 2 and 3 bacteria were markedly more abundant in vivo than indicated by their sparse representation in our strain collection. Overall, all but one of the new monoclonal antibodies should prove of value for the serological classification and rapid quantitative determination of A. naeslundii in clinical samples.