A novel approach has been developed for the isolation and maturation of human antibodies that replicates key features of the adaptive immune system by coupling in vitro somatic hypermutation (SHM) with mammalian cell display. SHM is dependent on the action of the B cell specific enzyme, activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), and can be replicated in non-B cells through expression of recombinant AID. A library of human antibodies, based on germline V-gene segments with recombined human regions was used to isolate low-affinity antibodies to human β nerve growth factor (hβNGF). These antibodies, initially naïve to SHM, were subjected to AID-directed SHM in vitro and selected using the same mammalian cell display system, as illustrated by the maturation of one of the antibodies to low pM K(D). This approach overcomes many of the previous limitations of mammalian cell display, enabling direct selection and maturation of antibodies as full-length, glycosylated IgGs.