The CD5 antigen is expressed at a high level on T cells from early on in thymocyte ontogeny and continues to be expressed on the surface of all mature T cells. In addition, it marks a population of B lymphocytes (B-1a) with distinct physiological properties. To study the in vivo function of CD5, the murine gene was inactivated using the technique of homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells. In homozygous mutant mice the CD5 antigen is not expressed on the surface of either T or B lineage cells, indicating that in both cell populations this antigen is encoded by the same gene. CD5-deficient (CD5T) mice are healthy and populations of T and B lymphocytes in these mice look unchanged when compared to control mice. The mutant mice are able to mount effective immune responses to T cell-dependent and -independent antigens.