We have used two rat monoclonal antibodies (Mab) (Bet-1 and 331.12), a mouse Mab (AF6-78.25), and an alloantiserum (SJA anti-BAB/14) in two-color immunofluorescence analysis and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays to examine the expression of IgM allotypes at various stages of mouse B cell development, especially at the pre-B cell stage. In agreement with findings previously reported by others, these antibodies displayed the patterns of allotypic reactivity with IgM+ B cells and plasma cells from the appropriate strains of mice: Bet-1 antibody is specific for a allotype, AF6-78.25 and SJA anti-BAB/14 for b allotype, and 331.12 for both a and b allotypes but not e allotype. These antibodies, however, did not react with isolated μ-heavy chains prepared from secreted molecules or synthesized in situ by normal pre-B cells or pre-B cell-derived hybridomas. The requirement of light chain participation in the expression of IgM allotypic determinant(s) was additionally suggested by analysis of a fetal liver-derived hybridoma (F1-26-11) that has been shown to secrete IgM heteromolecules composed of C57BL/6-derived μ-chain and BALB/c-derived κ-chains. In contrast to the nonreactivity with C57BL/6 μ-only pre-B cell-derived hybridomas, all three antibodies with specificity for the b allotype (AF6-78.25, SJA anti-BAB/14, and 331.12) reacted with this particular hybridoma. After treating surface IgM molecules on B lymphocytes with papain to cleave Fab fragments, the b allotype reactivity of AF6-78.25 mouse Mab, but not 331.12 rat Mab, disappeared, whereas the a allotype reactivities of two rat Mab (Bet-1, 331.12) were not altered. These results suggest that the IgM allotypic epitopes defined by these antibodies appear to be sterically dependent on the assembly of the whole IgM molecules, and rat Mab 331.12 and mouse Mab AF6-78.25 define two separate b allotype specificities, one on the Fc portion and the other on the Fab portion of the IgM molecules, respectively.