The mouse mb-1 gene was originally identified based on its restricted expression in B lineage cells. Predicted structural homology with the γ chain of the CD3 complex on T cells led to the suggestion that the MB-1 protein might associate with surface Ig (sIg) on B cells and be involved in signal transduction. Other studies identified at least two proteins that are noncovalently associated with sIgM, one of which has recently been shown to be the product of the mb-1 gene. To identify genes specifically expressed in normal human B cells we constructed a B minus T lymphocyte subtraction library and isolated a cDNA clone highly homologous to murine mb-1 (m-mb-1). A full-length cDNA was subsequently isolated and found to encode a membrane glycoprotein of 226 amino acids. It included a leader sequence (32 amino acids), an extracytoplasmic domain (111 amino acids) containing six potential N-glycosylation sites and three cysteine residues for potential inter- or intrachain disulfide linkages, a transmembrane domain (22 amino acids), and an intracytoplasmic domain (61 amino acids). The amino acid sequence homology between human and mouse mb-1 was especially striking (~92%) in the intracytoplasmic, transmembrane, and membrane-proximal extracellular domains but was less marked (~42%) in the remaining extracytoplasmic portion. Interestingly, part of the 3'-untranslated region was also highly conserved between species, suggesting an important role for this region in the regulation of mb-1 expression. The human mb-1 (h-mb-1) cDNA hybridized with a mRNA species of ~1.2 kb on Northern blots. Similar to m-mb-1, the h-mb-1 transcripts could be detected in pre-B cell lines and fetal bone marrow, in normal, mitogen activated- and transformed B cells but not in myeloma plasma cells. h-mb-1 was not expressed in peripheral T cells nor by cells of other hemopoietic lineages or in brain, heart, muscle, lung, and kidney. Surprisingly, however, low levels of h-mb-1 transcripts were detectable in two early T lineage cell lines and in the fetal thymus. This suggests that mb-1 may have other functions in addition to its role in signal transduction in B lineage cells.