In order to better understand the role of intestinal CD1d, we sought to define the cellular localization and further characterize the biochemical structure of CD1d in human intestinal epithelial cells (IEC). Using a CD1d-specific rabbit anti-gst-CD1d antibody, immunoprecipitation of radiolabeled cell surface proteins detected a previously identified 37 kDa protein as well as a 48-50 kDa protein which were confirmed by Western blotting with a CD1d-specific mAb, D5. Immunoprecipitation of protein lysates with the CD1d-specific mAb, D5 and 51.1.3, and the beta2-microglobulin (beta2m)-specific mAb, BBM.1, followed by N-glycanase digestion and Western blotting with the D5 mAb showed that the 48-50 kDa protein was a beta2m-associated, CD1d glycoprotein. CD1d was immunolocalized to the apical and lateral regions of native small and large intestinal IEC as defined by confocal laser microscopy using the D5 mAb and the rabbit anti-gst-CD1d antibody. In addition, a large apical intracellular pool of CD1d was identified. Identical observations were made with polarized T84 cells. Selective biotin labeling of apical and basolateral cell surfaces followed by immunoprecipitation with the D5 mAb, N-glycanase digestion and avidin blotting confirmed the presence of glycosylated CD1d on both cell surfaces and immunolocalization of the 37 kDa non-glycosylated form of CD1d to the apical cell surface. These studies show that CD1d is located in an ideal position for luminal antigen sampling and presentation to subjacent intraepithelial lymphocytes.