The human Burkitt lymphoma cell line Daudi does not synthesize beta2-microglobulin (beta2m) and lacks the cell surface histocompatibility antigens. The cells, however, contain RNA hybridizing to a cloned human beta2m cDNA probe. cDNA from this Daudi beta2m RNA, was cloned and sequenced. By comparison with cDNA prepared from Ramos cells, which synthesized microglobulin, we determined the sequence of the 20 amino acid long leader peptide of pre-beta2m and show that in Daudi cells the initiator ATG has been mutated to ATC. Although Daudi beta2m RNA cannot be translated, interferon induces the beta2m RNA in Daudi cells as well as in normal human cells.