Human supragingival dental plaque was collected from patients with various degrees of caries and periodontal disease. Plaque extracts, prepared in five different solutions (four varied from pH 1.8 to 12.7; one contained urea), were analyzed by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and tested for amylase and lysozyme enzyme activity. Because no qualitative or quantitative advantages of using the extremes of pH or urea were observed, all subsequent extracts were prepared in phosphate buffered saline at pH 7.3. Concentrated extracts were fractionated by gel filtration and characterized by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, peptide mapping, molecular weight estimation, determination of enzymatic activities and amino acid and carbohydrate analyses. Regions of similarity among the gels were revealed by comparing the electrophoretic patterns of pooled plaque extract, normal serum and whole saliva. The elution pattern of pooled plaque extract from a standardized Sephadex G-200 column indicated the presence of both high and low molecular weight proteins that might have correlated with the components of normal serum and saliva. A predominant and dialyzable third fraction had no correlate in either serum or saliva. The small peptides in this fraction were subjected to amino acid, carbohydrate and peptide map analyses. The most abundant amino acids were alanine, glutamic acid, glycine, valine, leucine, lysine and serine. These small components contained no neutral or amino sugars. Pooled plaque extract and the small peptides exhibited similar peptide maps.