Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) were generated against Leishmania major promastigote lipophosphoglycan (LPG) to use as tools in defining functional epitopes of this major cell surface glycoconjugate. Epitope mapping of four MAbs, designated 4A2-A2, 2G11-A3, 5E6-D10 and 5E10-F2, revealed that the phosphorylated oligosaccharide repeat unit PO4-6[Gal(beta 1-3)]Gal(beta 1-4)Man alpha 1-, P3, is a highly immunogenic epitope which has previously been demonstrated, by chemical analyses, to be a repeat unit specific to L. major. Two antibodies, 4A2-A2 and 5E10-F2, also recognised the repeat unit PO4-6[Ara(beta 1-2)Gal(beta 1-3)]Gal(beta 1-4)Man alpha 1-, 4Pa, with less affinity than P3, while 2G11-A3 recognised P4a with greater affinity than for P3. The L. major metacyclic-specific antibody 3F12 only recognised repeat units terminating with arabinose residues. In particular, 3F12 recognised P4a, which is upregulated in metacyclic LPG compared to the procyclic form of the molecule. The oligosaccharides P3, P4a and P5a are specific to L. major LPG. The epitopes of 4A2-A2, 2G11-A3, 5E6-D10 and 5E10-F2 were found on the cell surface and in the flagellar pocket of both procyclic and metacyclic V121 promastigotes, but were only detected at very low levels on amastigotes. The repeat unit P3 is able to inhibit attachment of procyclic promastigotes to the midgut of the sandfly vector, but neither Fab fragments of the four antibodies nor purified P3 could inhibit attachment of metacyclic promastigotes to the macrophage cell line J774. It was also shown that human sera from patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis recognised purified P3. The data suggests that while P3 is an immunogen in the natural course of infection of the human host, P3 plays no role in attachment and internalisation of promastigotes into the macrophages of the mammalian host.