The subset of human spontaneous IgG-secretion cells consists of mature B lymphocytes which are capable of active and high rate IgG production in vitro without the need for additional stimuli. Therefore, such a cell subset provides a useful model for studying the terminal stages of B-cell maturation. The present work analyses the phenotypic and functional characteristics of spontaneous IgG secreting cells obtained from tonsil, blood and bone marrow. The tonsilar cell subset was CD9+ CD20+ CD19+ CD38+/-, the blood cell subset CD9- CD20- CD19+ CD38+/- and bone marrow cells were CD9- CD20- CD19+/- CD38+. The three cell subsets required de novo RNA and protein synthesis for IgG secretion to occur. Tonsilar and blood, but not bone marrow, subsets also required DNA synthesis to undergo IgG secretion. Kinetics studies revealed that IgG production by tonsil and blood cells reached a plateau after 3 days of culture. In contrast, the bone marrow cell subset secreted IgG in a linear fashion for 2 weeks. These results indicate that spontaneous IgG-secreting cells from different organs exhibit functional and phenotypic heterogeneity.