Hemoglobin binding to chemostat-grown hemin-excess and hemin-limited cells of Porphyromonas gingivalis W50, and to cells of the avirulent, beige- pigmenting variant W50/BE1, was quantified. Hemin-excess W50 bound more hemoglobin than hemin-limited W50, mirroring the hemin-binding ability of these cells [Microb Ecol Health Dis 7:9-15, 1994]. In contrast to hemin, hemoglobin binding was not enhanced by sodium dithionite. The hemoglobin- binding capacity of hemin-excess W50/BE 1 was below that of hemin-limited W50 and only observed under oxidizing conditions. Scatchard analysis revealed similar affinity constants for hemin-excess and hemin-limited W50, and confirmed a lower binding maximum for the latter. Hemin-excess W50/BE1 displayed cooperative binding of hemoglobin. These differences in binding were reflected in the binding of a horse radish peroxidase-conjugated hemoglobin (HHRPO) in a dot-blot assay. However, neither the 32-kDa hemin- binding protein, nor its 19-kDa heat-modified form, from either hemin- limited W50 or hemin-excess W50/BE1, bound this conjugate. These data indicate that hemoglobin binding by P. gingivalis is hemin-regulated and occurs via a mechanism different from hemin binding.