The surface glycoproteins T4 and T8 define different functional subsets of T lymphocytes and may act as recognition molecules mediating appropriate interactions between the T cell and its target. Previously we employed gene transfer and subtractive hybridization to isolate a T8 cDNA; now we have isolated and sequenced a cDNA clone encoding the T4 molecule. The deduced protein sequence reveals that T4 is an integral membrane protein that shares significant amino acid and structural homologies with members of the immunoglobulin supergene family. The overall structure of T4 consists of an N-terminal variable (V)-like domain, a joining (J)-like region, a third extracellular domain, a membrane-spanning region homologous to class II MHC beta-chains, and a highly charged cytoplasmic domain. Comparison of the protein sequences deduced from the T4 and T8 cDNAs reveals structural similarities consistent with their postulated role as recognition molecules, as well as differences suggesting that the two proteins recognize different structures on the target cell.