The nature of the surface saccharides of zoospores, "partially encysted zoospores" and cysts of the root-rotting fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi, has been examined by quantitative lectin binding studies. Zoospores bound concanavalin A (Con A), but did not bind any of a variety of other lectins tested. In contrast, both cysts and "partially encysted zoospores" bound soybean agglutinin (SBA) as well as Con A. This indicates that accessible alpha-D-glucosyl/alpha-D-mannosyl-containing glycoconjugates predominate at the zoospore surface, whereas both alpha-D-glucosyl/alpha-D-mannosyl and galactosyl and/or N-acetyl-D-galactosaminosyl residues are accessible at the surface of cysts and "partially encysted zoospores." Neither Ulex europeus lectin nor wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) bound to any of the three cell preparations, indicating the absence of accessible alpha-L-fucosyl and N-acetyl-D-glucosaminosyl residues.