We have identified and characterized a membrane glycoprotein located at the apical plasma membrane of adult human colon epithelial cells, by the use of the monoclonal antibody technique in combination with immunocytochemical and biochemical methods. Analysis of membranes extracted with Triton X-114 and treated with specific hydrolases indicated that the antigen was an integral membrane glycoprotein. In the colon, the antigen was expressed in differentiated cells and along the entire crypt. It was also expressed at the apical membrane of the crypt cells of the distal ileum. It was not found in the proximal ileum, jejunum, or duodenum. In contrast, the antigen was found in all segments of the intestine of a 24-week-old embryo. Furthermore, the antigen had different apparent molecular weights in the adult ileum (200 kDa), adult colon (200 kDa and 301 kDa), and embryo (170 kDa). Therefore, this antigen should prove to be a useful marker to study the appearance of epithelial cell polarity during embryogenesis.