The human gene (RB) that determines susceptibility to hereditary retinoblastoma has been identified recently by molecular genetic techniques. Previous results indicate that complete inactivation of the RB gene is required for tumour formation. As a 'cancer suppressor' gene, RB thus functions in a manner opposite to that of most other oncogenes. Sequence analysis of RB complementary DNA clones demonstrated a long open reading frame encoding a hypothetical protein with features suggestive of a DNA-binding function. To further substantiate and identify the RB protein, we have prepared rabbit antisera against a trypE-RB fusion protein. The purified anti-RB IgG immunoprecipitates a protein doublet with apparent relative molecular mass (Mr) of 110,000-114,000. The specific protein(s) are present in all cell lines expressing normal RB mRNA, but are not detected in five retinoblastoma cell lines examined. The RB protein can be metabolically labelled with 32P-phosphoric acid, indicating that it is a phosphoprotein. Biochemical fractionation and immunofluorescence studies demonstrate that the majority of the protein is located within the nucleus. Furthermore, the protein can be retained by and eluted from DNA-cellulose columns, suggesting that it is associated with DNA binding activity. Taken together, these results imply that the RB gene product may function in regulating other genes within the cell.