As part of a longitudinal study of the relationship between bacterial colonization and the secretory immune response, 367 isolates of pioneer viridans streptococci collected from 40 breast- and bottle-fed neonates within the first month postpartum were tested for the production of immunoglobulin A1 (IgA1) protease and glycosidases. Fifty percent of the streptococci isolated produced IgA1 protease, including all isolates of Streptococcus oralis and S. sanguis, 60.7% of S. mitis biovar 1 isolates, and some isolates that could not be identified. Three cleavage patterns of alpha 1 heavy chains were observed. Six isolates of S. mitis biovar 1 that did not produce IgA1 protease attacked the alpha 1 chain. Incubation of IgA1 protease-negative S. mitis biovar 1 isolates with IgA1, either prior to or together with S. sanguis, rendered the IgA1 paraprotein resistant to cleavage by the IgA1 protease of S. sanguis. The ability of some pioneer streptococci in the human oral cavity to produce IgA1 protease and of others to modify the susceptibility of IgA1 to cleavage by IgA1 protease perhaps enhances their ability to survive in this habitat.