We synthesized six peptides (15-22 amino acids) from the amino acid sequence of the S1 subunit of pertussis toxin. The antigenicity of the polypeptides was investigated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, in which the polypeptides coupled to bovine serum albumin were used as coating antigens. The polypeptides were examined as antigens for reaction with pre- and postvaccination sera from infants receiving either a Bordetella pertussis whole-cell vaccine or a vaccine containing pertussis toxoid. An elevated serum titer was noted upon vaccination with both types of vaccines when bovine serum albumin conjugates of five synthetic peptides were used as antigens. Similarly, mice immunized with whole-cell pertussis vaccine showed an elevated titer against all five peptides that were reactive with human sera. Thus, we identified five peptide sequences of S1 against which, in two species, antibodies are formed upon exposure of these species to whole cells of B. pertussis.