Porphyromonas gingivalis, a gram-negative, black-pigmented anaerobe, is among the microorganisms implicated in the etiology of adult periodontal disease. This bacterium possesses a number of factors, including hemagglutinins, of potential importance in virulence. Our laboratory has shown the induction of protection to P. gingivalis infection after subcutaneous immunization with recombinant hemagglutinin B (rHagB). The purpose of this study was to determine if humoral antibody responses are induced after intranasal (i.n.) immunization of rHagB and if monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL), a nontoxic derivative of the lipid A region of lipopolysaccharide, acts as a mucosal adjuvant and potentiates responses to rHagB. Further, the effects of MPL on the nature of the response to HagB and on the costimulatory molecules B7-1 and B7-2 on different antigen-presenting cells (APC) were evaluated. Groups of BALB/c mice were immunized three times (2-week intervals) by the i.n. route with HagB (20 μg) alone or with MPL (25 μg). A group of nonimmunized mice served as control. Serum and saliva samples were collected prior to immunization and at approximately 2-week intervals and evaluated for serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgG subclass and for salivary IgA antibody activity by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Mice immunized with rHagB plus MPL had significantly higher salivary IgA (P < 0.05) and serum IgG (P < 0.05) anti-HagB responses than mice immunized with rHagB alone. The IgG1 and IgG2a subclass responses seen in mice immunized with rHagB plus MPL were significantly higher (P < 0.05) than those seen in mice immunized with rHagB only. Further, the IgG2a/IgG1 ratio in the latter group was ≈1, whereas in mice immunized with rHagB plus MPL the ratio was < 1. These results provide evidence for the participation of T helper (Th) 1 and Th2 cells in responses to rHagB and that MPL potentiates a type 2 response to HagB. MPL was also shown to preferentially up-regulate B7-2 expression on B cells, whereas a preferential increase in B7-1 costimulatory molecule was seen on macrophages and dendritic cells. These results provide evidence that MPL exerts a differential regulation in the expression of costimulatory molecules on APC.