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The purpose of this study was to probe the fate of a model antigen, a cysteine-free mutant of bacteriophage T4 lysozyme, to the level of fine structural detail, as a consequence of its interaction with an aluminum (Al)-containing adjuvant. Fluorescence spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry were used to compare the thermal stability of the protein in solution versus adsorbed onto an Al-containing adjuvant. Differences in accessible hydrophobic surface areas were investigated using an extrinsic fluorescence probe, 8-Anilino-1-naphthalenesulfonic acid (ANS). As has been observed with other model antigens, the apparent thermal stability of the protein decreased following adsorption onto the adjuvant. ANS spectra suggested that adsorption onto the adjuvant caused an increase in exposure of hydrophobic regions of the protein. Electrostatic interactions drove the adsorption, and disruption of these interactions with high ionic strength buffers facilitated the collection of two-dimensional 15N heteronuclear single quantum coherence nuclear magnetic resonance data of protein released from the adjuvant. Although the altered stability of the adsorbed protein suggested changes to the protein's structure, the fine structure of the desorbed protein was nearly identical to the protein's structure in the adjuvant-free formulation. Thus, the adjuvant-induced changes to the protein that were responsible for the reduced thermal stability were not observed upon desorption. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.