A process unique to lymphocyte differentiation is the rearrangement of genes encoding antigen-specific receptors on B and T cells. A mouse mutant (C.B-17scid) with severe combined immune deficiency, i.e., that lacks functional B and T cells, shows no evidence of such gene rearrangements. However, rearrangements were detected in Abelson murine leukemia virus-transformed bone marrow cells and in spontaneous thymic lymphomas from C.B-17scid mice. Most of these rearrangements were abnormal: ∼80% of Igh rearrangements deleted the entire Jh region, and ∼60% of TCRβ rearrangements deleted the entire Jβ2 region. The deletions appeared to result from faulty D-to-J recombination. No such abnormal rearrangements were detected in transformed tissues from control mice. The scid mutation may adversely affect the recombinase system catalyzing the assembly of antigen receptor genes in developing B and T lymphocytes. © 1986.