A mAb directed against the CD3 molecule was used to identify a subset of CD3+, CD4-, CD8- T cells previously undefined in the peripheral lymphoid organs of the mouse. Biochemical analysis of CD3+, CD4-, CD8- splenocytes revealed that the vast majority of these cells express one of at least two distinct CD3-associated TCR gamma delta heterodimeric structures, but no detectable TCR alpha beta. One disulfide-linked heterodimer (77 kDa) is composed of two chains of 45 to 46 and 32 kDa. The latter chain was immunoprecipitated with an anti-TCR C gamma 1/C gamma 2 antiserum and was not glycosylated. An antiserum produced against a peptide corresponding to the C-terminal region of the predicted C gamma 4 gene product immunoprecipitated additional heterodimers (80 to 90 kDa). One heterodimer, composed of disulfide-linked 41- to 45-kDa protein (including a V gamma/C gamma 4 component), is expressed on a T cell hybridoma, DN-1.21, which was derived from fused splenic CD3+, CD4-, CD8- T cells. Another V gamma/C gamma 4-containing heterodimer is composed of disulfide-linked 46- to 47-kDa glycoproteins. These findings demonstrate that CD3+, CD4-, CD8- T cells present in the peripheral lymphoid organs express a variety of paired TCR gamma delta proteins. Unlike CD3+, CD4-, CD8- thymocytes, these cells express high levels of C gamma 4, but little, if any TCR alpha beta.