Marginal zone (MZ), follicular (FO), and B1 B cells form the long-lived naive B cell compartment. To identify surface markers that define MZ B cells in mice, we generated a panel of mAbs reactive with MZ but not FO B cells. One of these mAbs, MZ3, was found to recognize the tetraspanin CD9. CD9 expression not only distinguishes MZ B cells from FO B cells but also divided peritoneal cavity B1 cells into smaller subsets. After short-term in vitro stimulation with various mitogens, FO B cells failed to induce CD9 protein, while MZ B cells up-regulated the level of CD9 protein. However, after prolonged culture of FO B cells with LPS, surface CD9 was induced, together with syndecan 1, indicative of plasma cell differentiation. Following immunization with a T-independent-2 Ag, R36A, or a T-dependent Ag, SRBC, we found that CD9 is not expressed by germinal center B cells but is eventually expressed on plasma cells in response to both T-independent-2 and T-dependent Ags. Collectively, these results suggest that MZ B cells and B1 cell subsets are the immediate precursors of plasma cells in the primary response and that CD9 is acquired by T-dependent plasma cells.