The Mycoplasma pulmonis Vsa proteins are a family of size- and phase-variable lipoproteins that shield the mycoplasmas from complement and modulate attachment to abiotic surfaces. Mycoplasmas producing a long Vsa protein hemadsorb poorly and yet are proficient at colonizing rats and mice. The effect of the length of the Vsa protein on the attachment of mycoplasmas to epithelial cells has not been previously explored. We find that independent of Vsa isotype, mycoplasmas producing a long Vsa protein with many tandem repeats adhere poorly to murine MLE-12 cells compared with mycoplasmas producing a short Vsa. We also find that mutants lacking the EPS-I polysaccharide of M. pulmonis exhibited decreased adherence to MLE-12 cells, even though it has been shown previously that such mutants have an enhanced ability to form a biofilm. © 2012 Federation of European Microbiological Societies.