We have developed a method for obtaining pneumococcal lipoteichoic acid (LTA) with none, one, or two acyl chains. Anion-exchange chromatography at pH 9.5 yields pneumococcal LTA (labeled LTA-9.5) that has a mass spectrum identical to that of pre-ion-exchange LTA and loses 500 mass units after deacylation by alkali hydrolysis. Anion exchange at pH 10.5 produces LTA (labeled LTA-10.5) with mass peaks that are 264 mass units lower than those of pre-ion-exchange LTA, and deacylation of LTA-10.5 by alkali hydrolysis reduces the mass by only 239 mass units. This result indicates that LTA-10.5 has lost one of the two acyl chains, whereas LTA-9.5 has both acyl chains. When the biological properties of LTA-9.5 and LTA-10.5 are examined with mouse cells, only LTA-9.5 (and not LTA-10.5) is able to stimulate mouse cells to produce tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-1β, and nitric oxide. In contrast, both LTA-9.5 and LTA-10.5 can stimulate human cells. LTA became inactive when both acyl chains were removed. Thus, acyl chains are critical for LTA function, and small variations in acyl chains can alter biological properties of LTA.