In order to look for a site-specific T-cell response in RA SM, PCR analyses using oligonucleotide primers specific for 24 TCRBV (V beta) families were performed to compare the respective usage of each TCRBV gene by T cells present in PB and SM of 13 patients with RA. In four patients, SM cells from two or three sites of inflammation were subjected to analysis. In one patient, synovial tissue was studied at two different phases of the disease, resulting in a total number of 19 samples of SM cells, which were compared with paired samples of PB cells. The results showed that whereas all 24 TCRBV gene families could be detected in both PB and SM cells, there was some skewing of increased or decreased usage frequencies of particular TCR V beta genes among SM cells. Three TCRBV families were often overexpressed in SM: V beta 3, V beta 17, and V beta 22. Moreover, V beta 4 was often decreased in SM (7 out of 13). This decrease was statistically significant in the RA population studied. SM from different joints of a given patient showed similar variations of T-cell repertoire compared to PB, even 6 months later in the course of the disease. These results demonstrate a biased TCRBV gene utilization in RA SM. This bias appears to be similar in different joints and at different times in the course of the disease. No correlation was found between the bias of TCR repertoire in SM and the HLA typing of these patients.