Opsonin-independent phagocytosis of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is important in defense against neonatal GBS infections. A recent study indicated a role for GBS pilus in macrophage phagocytosis (Maisey et al Faseb J 22 2008 1715-24). We studied 163 isolates from different phylogenetic backgrounds and those possessing or lacking the gene encoding the pilus backbone protein, Spb1 (SAN1518, PI-2b) and spb1-deficient mutants of wild-type (WT) serotype III-3 GBS 874391 in non-opsonic phagocytosis assays using J774A.1 macrophages. Numbers of GBS phagocytosed differed up to 23-fold depending on phylogenetic background; isolates possessing spb1 were phagocytosed more than isolates lacking spb1. Comparing WT GBS and isogenic spb1-deficient mutants showed WT was phagocytosed better compared to mutants; Spb1 also enhanced intracellular survival as mutants were killed more efficiently. Complementation of mutants restored phagocytosis and resistance to killing in J774A.1 macrophages. Spb1 antiserum revealed surface expression in WT GBS and spatial distribution relative to capsular polysaccharide. spb1 did not affect macrophage nitric oxide and TNF-alpha responses; differences in phagocytosis did not correlate with N-acetyl d-glucosamine (from GBS cell-wall) according to enzyme-linked lectin-sorbent assay. Together, these findings support a role for phylogenetic lineage and Spb1 in opsonin-independent phagocytosis and intracellular survival of GBS in J774A.1 macrophages. © 2011.