PsaA of Streptococcus pneumoniae, originally believed to be an adhesin, is the lipoprotein component of an Ma2+ transporter. Mutations in psaA cause deficiencies in growth, virulence, adherence, and the oxidative stress response. Immunofluorescence microscopy shows that PsaA is hidden beneath the cell wall and the polysaccharide capsule and only exposed to antibodies upon cell wall removal. A psaBC deletion mutant, expressing PsaA normally, was as deficient in adherence to Detroit 562 cells as were strains lacking PsaA. Thus, PsaA does not appear to act directly as an adhesin, but rather, psaA mutations indirectly affect this process through the disruption of Mn2+ transport. The deficiency in Mn2+ transport also causes hypersensitivity to oxidative stress from H2O2 and superoxide. In a chemically defined medium, growth of the wild-type strain was possible in the absence of Fe2+ and Mn2+ cations after a lag of about 15 h. Addition of Mn2+ alone or together with Fe 2+ allowed prompt and rapid growth. In the absence of Mn 2+, the addition of Fe2+ alone extended the 15-h lag phase to 25 h. Thus, while Fe2+ adversely affects the transition from lag phase to log phase, perhaps through increasing oxidative stress, this effect is relieved by the presence of Mn2+. A scavenger specific for superoxides but not those specific for hydroxyl radicals or H2O 2 was able to eliminate the inhibition of growth caused by iron supplementation in the absence of Mn2+. This implies that superoxides are a key player in oxidative stress generated in the presence of iron.