We used polyclonal rabbit antibodies directed against synthetic peptides predicted from the gene sequence of the human T-cell receptor (TCR) beta-chain YT35 to study the antigen receptor on human helper T-cell leukemia lines and on normal mouse thymocytes. Antibodies were raised to peptides corresponding to joining segment (J beta) and to a conserved stretch of sequence around the first cysteine in the constant region (C beta). These peptides were selected on the basis of homology with corresponding segments of immunoglobulin light chains. The specificity of the antibodies was established using synthetic overlapping peptides that modelled the complete TCR beta-chain. Western blot analysis was performed against detergent lysates of T cells. Both of the antibodies reacted strongly with 2-3 polypeptides in the mass range 40-45 kDa in mouse and human cells. Clearance experiments using monoclonal antibodies against murine TCR alpha- and beta-chains and against human TCR beta-chain and immunoprecipitations with monoclonal antibody to the murine T3 complex established that these components represented the alpha/beta heterodimer. An additional component around 31 kDa was detected by anti-J beta antibodies in murine thymus extracts. The use of the affinity-purified antipeptide antibody in two-dimensional Western blot analyses allows the clear discrimination between the characteristic individual receptors of monoclonal neoplastic T cells and the polydisperse patterns representative of heterogeneous normal populations. Antigenic cross-reactions between T-cell receptor beta-chains of man and mouse observed with monoclonal antibodies and rabbit antisera to peptides are consistent with the homology in gene sequence between the two species.