Transport of human and mouse major histocompatibility complex class I glycoproteins has been examined in a transport deficient B-lymphoblastoid cell line X T-lymphoblastoid cell line (B-LCL X T-LCL) hybrid, 174 X CEM.T2 (T2). This cell line expresses no detectable endogenous HLA-B5 and reduced levels of HLA-A2 on its surface although these molecules are synthesized. In order to study this defect further, either HLA-Bw58 or HLA-B7 genomic clones were transfected into T2. Metabolic labeling and immune precipitation demonstrated biosynthesis of the Bw58 or B7 glycoprotein. However, like the endogenous HLA-B5 molecule, neither HLA-Bw58 nor HLA-B7 was expressed at the cell surface. The cloned genes were properly expressed on the surface of C1R, a control B-LCL. To determine if mouse class I alleles had the same transport requirements as the human class I glycoproteins, either mouse H-2Dp or H-2Kb class I genes were introduced into T2. Surprisingly, the H-2 class I glycoproteins were transported to the cell surface normally. These data suggest a fundamental difference between human and mouse histocompatibility antigens in their requirements for intracellular transport.