LT-IIa and LT-IIb, the type II heat-labile enterotoxins of Escherichia coli, are closely related in structure and function to cholera toxin and LT-I, the type I heat-labile enterotoxins of Vibrio cholerae and E. coli, respectively. Recent studies from our group demonstrated that LT-IIa and LT-IIb are potent systemic and mucosal adjuvants. To determine whether binding of LT-IIa and LT-IIb to their specific ganglioside receptors is essential for adjuvant activity, LT-IIa and LT-IIb enterotoxins were compared with their respective single-point substitution mutants which have no detectable binding activity for their major ganglioside receptors [e.g., LT-IIa(T34I) and LT-IIb(T13I)]. Both mutant enterotoxins exhibited an extremely low capacity for intoxicating mouse Y1 adrenal cells and for inducing production of cyclic AMP in a macrophage cell line. BALB/c female mice were immunized by the intranasal route with the surface adhesin protein AgI/II of Streptococcus mutans alone or in combination with LT-IIa, LT-IIa(T34I), LT-IIb, or LT-IIb(T13I). Both LT-IIa and LT-IIb potentiated strong mucosal and systemic immune responses against AgI/II. Of the two mutant enterotoxins, only LT-IIb(T13I) had the capacity to strongly potentiate mucosal anti-AgI/II and systemic anti-AgI/II antibody responses. Upon boosting with AgI/II, however, both LT-IIa(T34I) and LT-IIb(T13I) enhanced humoral memory responses to AgI/II. Flow cytometry demonstrated that LT-IIa(T34I) had no affinity for cervical lymph node lymphocytes. In contrast, LT-IIb(T13I) retained binding activity for T cells, B cells, and macrophages, indicating that this immunostimulatory mutant enterotoxin interacts with one or more unknown lymphoid cell receptors.