Monoclonal antibodies were produced to the surface of the symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacterium Rhizobium meliloti. Bacterial lysis in the presence of complement or cycles of agglutination and growth were used to select mutants no longer recognized by the antibodies. The mutants were used to produce new antibodies with different specificities. Several mutants had altered sensitivity to one or more bacteriophages. R. meliloti strains from different sources had distinct patterns of sensitivity to monoclonal antibodies and phages, which together can be used for discriminative typing.