Heavy chain gene rearrangements were analyzed in 67 independently derived reticuloendotheliosis virus (REV-T) transformed avian lymphoid cell lines. The status of the heavy chain genes in these REV-T transformed cell lines was determined, in part, by the age of the chicken whose spleen cells were transformed. Cell lines derived by the in vitro transformation of splenic lymphocytes obtained from embryos did not contain heavy chain gene Ig rearrangements. By contrast, splenic lymphocytes transformed by REV-T obtained from birds 1 week or older generally exhibited heavy chain gene rearrangements. The REV-T transformed lymphoid cell lines with heavy chain rearrangements also had light chain gene rearrangements. The Ig gene rearrangements in REV-T transformed cells were functional. The majority of the cells which had heavy chain rearrangements expressed a 2.2-kb mu transcript and synthesized and secreted IgM. An REV-T transformant was also identified which produced IgG, suggesting that v-rel can transform a terminally differentiated cell. Irrespective of their Ig chain gene status the REV-T transformed cell lines expressed variable amounts of some but not all normal B cell-specific markers and failed to express T cell markers. All the cell lines analyzed expressed the B-L (Ia-like) antigen as well as a common leukocyte antigen. Based on the expression of these surface molecules, the transformants with or without Ig gene rearrangements all appear to be committed to the B cell pathway.