Acinetobacter calcoaceticus RAG-1 cells lacking the emulsan capsule on the cell surface were obtained by two methods; a) by selecting for mutants that lack emulsan with a specific phage and b) by removal of the emulsan capsule from wild type cells with a specific emulsan depolymerase. Emulsan deficient cells obtained by either method become deficient in the adsorption of phage ap3 and sensitive to a newly isolated bacteriophage, nø. When RAG-1 cells were first treated with emulsan depolymerase and subsequently incubated without the enzyme, regeneration of the cell-associated emulsan was correlated with an increase in phage ap3 adsorption and an inhibition in phage nø adsorption. By partial regeneration of cell surface emulsan, a physiological state was obtained in which RAG-1 cells were sensitive to and efficiently adsorbed found phages. Enzyme-treated RAG-1 cells were found to be more adherent to hexadecane than the untreated RAG-1 cells. The data indicate that in addition to its function as the ap3 receptor, cell-associated emulsan masks the expression of other cell-surface determinant(s) which function(s) as: (i) receptor for bacteriophage nø, and (ii) cell-surface sites which enhance adherence to hydrophobic surfaces.