Previous studies suggest that the diversity of the expressed variable (V) region repertoire of the immunoglobulin (Ig)H chain of B-CLL cells is restricted. Although limited examples of marked constraint in the primary structure of the H and L chain V regions exist, the possibility that this level of restriction is a general principle in this disease has not been accepted. This report describes five sets of patients, mostly with unmutated or minimally mutated IgV genes, with strikingly similar B cell antigen receptors (BCRs) arising from the use of common H and L chain V region gene segments that share CDR3 structural features such as length, amino acid composition, and unique amino acid residues at recombination junctions. Thus, a much more striking degree of structural restriction of the entire BCR and a much higher frequency of receptor sharing exists among patients than appreciated previously. The data imply that either a significant fraction of B-CLL cells was selected by a limited set of antigenic epitopes at some point in their development and/or that they derive from a distinct B cell subpopulation with limited Ig V region diversity. These shared, stereotyped Ig molecules may be valuable probes for antigen identification and important targets for cross-reactive idiotypic therapy.