The monoclonal antibody Ki-67 detects a human nuclear antigen that is present in proliferating cells, but absent in quiescent cells. The aim of this study was to characterize the Ki-67 antigen by means of immunobiochemical and molecular biology techniques. Enzymatic digestion experiments showed that this antigen is highly susceptible to protease treatment, and the antigen cannot be extracted by 0.1 normal HCl, indicating that Ki-67 antigen is a nonhistone protein. Immunoblot analysis of cell lysates with Ki-67 showed a double band with apparent molecular weights of 395 kd and 345 kd, regardless of whether the gels were run under reducing or nonreducing conditions. It is noteworthy that these bands were exclusively detectable in lysates prepared from proliferating cells, whereas they were absent in lysates obtained from quiescent cells. These immunobiochemical data are further substantiated by our molecular cloning approaches. By means of immunocloning with Ki-67, the authors isolated and sequenced several cDNA fragments from lambda gt11 libraries. A 1095-bp fragment gave a strong hybridization signal at 7.5 to 9.5 kb in Northern blot analysis with RNA prepared from proliferating cells, whereas it was negative with RNA prepared from quiescent cells. This cDNA fragment could be bacterially expressed, and in subsequent immunoblot analysis Ki-67 reacted exclusively with those fusion proteins that were derived from bacteria containing the insert in the right reading frame.