In our previous paper (Matsuo, K., Isogai, E., and Araki, Y., Carbohydr. Res., 328: 517-524, 2000), antigenic polysaccharides obtained from the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) fraction of a nonpathogenic leptospira, Leptospira biflexa patoc Patoc I, are shown to be broadly crossreactable with most rabbit antisera elicited by immunization with various pathogenic leptospires. The result led us to test a protective effect of the same LPS in a hamster model system by heterologously challenging with a pathogenic leptospira, L. interrogans manilae UP-MMG. Firstly, a similarity in the antigenic epitopes of L. biflexa and L. interrogans was confirmed by the following assays. In the microscopic agglutination test (MAT), a hamster antiserum elicited by immunization with the L. biflexa-LPS preparation was shown to agglutinate cells of L. interrogans. Contrarily, in the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), the L. biflexa-LPS preparation was shown to crossreact with a hamster antiserum elicited by immunization with whole cells of L. interrogans. These results suggest that the same or closely related antigens may be present on the cell surfaces of both L. biflexa patoc Patoc I and L. interrogans manilae UP-MMG. Furthermore, in a protective assay, the prior administration of a L. biflexa-LPS preparation resulted in raising a protective response in hamsters against challenge by L. interrogans without any side effect. The protective effect was strongly dependent on the dose amounts and/or administration times of L. biflexa-LPS. Thus, L. biflexa-LPS preparations can use as a potent vaccine against leptospirosis caused by various leptospires.