The murine B7 (mB7) protein is a potent costimulatory molecule for the T-cell receptor (TCR)-mediated activation of murine CD4+ T cells. We have previously shown that stable mB7-transfected Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells but not vector-transfected controls synergize with either anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody-induced or concanavalin A-induced T-cell activation, resulting ultimately in lymphokine production and proliferation. We now have generated a hamster anti-mB7 monoclonal antibody. This reagent recognizes a protein with an apparent molecular mass of 50-60 kDa. The mB7 antigen is expressed on activated B cells and on peritoneal exudate cells (PECs). Antibody blocking experiments demonstrate that mB7 is the major costimulatory molecule expressed by PECs for the activation of murine CD4+ T cells. This suggests an important role for mB7 during immune-cell interactions. We have also surveyed a panel of murine cell lines capable of providing costimulatory activity. Our results indicate that mB7 is the major costimulatory molecule on some but not all cell lines and that there may be additional molecules besides mB7 that can costimulate the activation of murine CD4+ T cells.