Background Streptococcus suis is a zoonotic pathogen, causing meningitis and septicemia. We previously demonstrated that the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is an entry site for zoonotic S. suis infection. Here we studied the contribution of Streptococcal adhesin Protein (SadP) to hostpathogen interaction at GIT level. Methods SadP expression in presence of Intestinal Epithelial Cells (IEC) was compared with expression of other virulence factors by measuring transcript levels using quantitative Real Time PCR (qRT-PCR). SadP variants were identified by phylogenetic analysis of complete DNA sequences. The interaction of SadP knockout and complementation mutants with IEC was tested in vitro. Results Expression of sadP was significantly increased in presence of IEC. Sequence analysis of 116 invasive strains revealed five SadP sequence variants, correlating with genotype. SadP1, present in zoonotic isolates of clonal complex 1, contributed to binding to both human and porcine IEC and translocation across human IEC. Antibodies against the globotriaosylceramide Gb3/CD77 receptor significantly inhibited adhesion to human IEC. Conclusion SadP is involved in the host-pathogen interaction in the GIT. Differences between SadP variants may determine different affinities to the Gb3/CD77 host-receptor, contributing to variation in adhesion capacity to host IEC and thus to S. suis zoonotic potential.