mAbs directed against the ectoenzyme CD38 will induce B cell proliferation in normal resting B lymphocytes, but cannot induce proliferation in B cells that are unresponsive to B cell Ag receptor (BCR) cross-linking. Using the CD38- murine B cell line A20 we have examined the relationship between CD38- and BCR-mediated signaling after transfection of wild-type or mutant CD38 molecules. Although association between CD38 and the BCR was not detectable, co-cross-linking of CD38 and the BCR gave rise to a synergistic response, and expression of CD38 lowered the threshold for BCR-induced responses. Generation of Ig loss variant clones established that coexpression of the BCR was required for CD38-mediated signal transduction. The cytoplasmic tail of Igα or Igβ rescued CD38 responsiveness in the CD38+Ig- cells provided that the chimeric molecules were coligated with CD38. Separate experiments indicated that the cytoplasmic tail of CD38 is not required for CD38 signaling. The anti-CD38-induced response was dependent on the influx of extracellular calcium but was not accompanied by detectable tyrosine phosphorylation of any cellular proteins. Together, these data demonstrate that the CD38 molecule can influence BCR-induced responses and that CD38 signaling is dependent on the BCR complex, perhaps to utilize a functional cytoplasmic tail(s) for intracellular signaling.