The surface of streptococci presents an array of different proteins, each designed to perform a specific function. In an attempt to understand the early events in group A streptococci infection, we have identified and purified a major surface protein from group A type 6 streptococci that has both an enzymatic activity and a binding capacity for a variety of proteins. Mass spectrometric analysis of the purified molecule revealed a monomer of 35.8 kD. Molecular sieve chromatography and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)-gel electrophoresis suggest that the native conformation of the protein is likely to be a tetramer of 156 kD. NH2-terminal amino acid sequence analysis revealed 83% homology in the first 18 residues and about 56% in the first 39 residues with glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) of eukaryotic or bacterial origin. This streptococcal surface GAPDH (SDH) exhibits a dose-dependent dehydrogenase activity on glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate in the presence of beta-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide both in its pure form and on the streptococcal surface. Its sensitivity to trypsin on whole organism and its inability to be removed with 2 M NaCl or 2% SDS support its surface location and tight attachment to the streptococcal cell. Affinity-purified antibodies to SDH detected the presence of this protein on the surface of all M serotypes of group A streptococcal tested. Purified SDH was found to bind to fibronectin, lysozyme, as well as the cytoskeletal proteins myosin and actin. The binding activity to myosin was found to be localized to the globular heavy meromyosin domain. SDH did not bind to streptococcal M protein, tropomyosin, or the coiled-coil domain of myosin. The multiple binding capacity of the SDH in conjunction with its GAPDH activity may play a role in the colonization, internalization, and the subsequent proliferation of group A streptococci.