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Adjuvant intravesical Calmette-Guerin bacillus (BCG) is an effective treatment for superficial bladder cancer. The mechanisms by which BCG mediates antitumor activity are not known. We investigated the initial interaction of BCG with the bladder mucosa to determine whether binding was essential for the development of antitumor activity. Herein, we show that bladder urothelial disruption induced by acrolein, adriamycin, or electrocautery resulted in BCG binding in areas of urothelial damage. Binding induced by each method was inhibited by anti-fibronectin (FN) antibodies but not by antibodies to the basement membrane component laminin. Intravesical BCG binding also was inhibited by pretreating BCG with soluble FN. Inhibition of intravesical FN-mediated BCG attachment prevented immunization via the intravesical route. Moreover, the expression of both delayed hypersensitivity in the bladder of BCG-immunized mice and antitumor activity was inhibited by blocking FN-mediated intravesical BCG attachment. These data suggest that intralumenal attachment of BCG appears to be mediated by FN. Moreover, these data suggest that intravesical FN mediated attachment of BCG is a requisite step in BCG-mediated antitumor activity in the murine bladder tumor model.