The glycoproteins recognized by monoclonal antibody (MAb) NKI-beteb are among the best diagnostic markers for human melanoma. MAb NKI-beteb reacts with melanoma cells throughout tumor development and does not cross-react with other tumor or normal cells, except for cells of the melanocytic lineage. Two other melanocyte lineage-specific MAbs, HMB-50 and HMB-45, show a specificity and staining pattern strikingly similar to the ones observed for NKI-beteb. Herein, we demonstrate that all three MAbs recognize protein products encoded by a single cDNA. Expression of this cDNA in BLM cells results in immunoreactivity with all three MAbs. In addition, we demonstrate co-distribution of the RNA species detected by the cDNA with the proteins recognized by the MAbs in tissue sections.