An immune-complex-mediated inflammation has been suggested in the pathogenesis of skin and biliary complications in ulcerative colitis, although specific antigen-antibody complexes have not been found. We recently identified an Mr 40,000 colonic protein that reacts with tissue-bound immunoglobulin G eluted from colon specimens of patients with ulcerative colitis and not with immunoglobulin G eluted from colon specimens of patients with other diseases (J Clin Invest 1985;7:311). Murine monoclonal antibodies to the purified Mr 40,000 colonic protein are developed. The presence of the Mr 40,000 protein was examined with a monoclonal antibody (7E12H12, immunoglobulin M isotype) by an immunoperoxidase assay against various human epithelial tissues (74 specimens) including colon, ileum, jejunum, duodenum, stomach, esophagus, pancreaas, liver, respiratory, urinary, and genital tracts. In addition, gall bladder, bile duct, hepatic ducts, skin, synovial membrane, and eye tissue were also examined for any cross-reactivity with 7E12H12 and another anti-Mr 40,000 monoclonal antibody (7E6A5, immunoglobulin G1 isotype). 7E12H12 reacted only with colonic-epithelial cells mainly along the basolateral domains of plasma membrane and apical areas. The reactivity was present in both adult and fetal colon including the appendix. Among all the noncolonic tissue specimens, 7E12H12 reacted only with the gall bladder, the bile duct, the hepatic ducts, and the skin. All other epithelial tissues from 15 different organs, including the small intestine, synovium, and eye tissue, did not react. In the skin and biliary tract the immunoreactivity was exclusively present in the epidermal epithelial cells and mucosal epithelium respectively. 7E6A5 stained colonic mucosal cells but did not react with skin, biliary epithelium, synoyium and eye tissue. These results indicate the presence of a unique epitope or epitopes on Mr 40,000 colonic epithelial protein that is shared by the skin and biliary tract epithelial cells. Future studies of this shared epitope or epitopes and its immune recognition may provide further understanding in the pathogenesis of extraintestinal complications involving these organs in patients with ulcerative colitis.