Immunoglobulin genes can be efficiently expressed following transfection into myeloma cells. Using protoplast fusion, transfection frequencies greater than 10(-3) can be achieved. Compatible plasmids containing two different selectible markers are used to simultaneously deliver heavy and light chain genes to the same cell. To produce molecules with differing specificities the rearranged and expressed variable regions can be cloned from the appropriate hybridoma. In some cases, variable regions from cDNAs can be inserted into the expression vectors. It is possible to manipulate the immunoglobulin genes and produce novel antibody molecules. Antibodies have been produced in which the variable regions from mouse antibodies have been joined to human constant regions. In addition, antibodies with altered constant regions have been produced. These genetically engineered antibodies provide a unique set of reagents to study structure-function relationships within the molecule. They also can potentially be used in the diagnosis and therapy of human disease.