Recent evidence indicates that the transmembrane form of IgM on murine and human B lymphocytes is physically associated with at least two proteins, forming a disulfide-linked dimer, which may control cell surface expression of IgM and also play a role in signal transduction after Ag binding (by analogy with the TCR-associated CD3 components in T lymphocytes). We have used mAb and polyclonal antibodies against an intracytoplasmic epitope on one of these polypeptides (previously identified in murine B cells as the product of the B cell specific mb-1 gene) to study the distribution of the IgM-associated dimer in human cells. By immunocytochemical staining of normal and neoplastic B cells, we show that the human mb-1 protein appears early in B cell differentiation, probably before expression of cytoplasmic mu-chain, and persists until the plasma cell stage, where it is seen as an intracytoplasmic component. According to immunohistologic analysis of reactive lymphoid tissue and lymphoma samples, mb-1 protein is completely B cell specific. Anti-mb-1 also labels B cell areas in tissues from seven different mammalian species. Finally, the Ig-associated dimer could be isolated from human hairy-cell leukemia cells in high purity and yield by affinity chromatography using anti-mb-1 antibody. Mice immunized with this material have produced a strong polyclonal response, so that it should now be possible to prepare a panel of new mAb reactive with different epitopes on both mb-1 and on its associated polypeptide(s).