Intestinal epithelial cells from the mouse small intestine were immortalized by SV40 large T gene transfer through a murine ecotropic virus. The resulting cell lines expressed the SV40 large T mRNA and exhibited morphological and phenotypic characteristics of normal enterocytes, including intercellular junctions, and expression of cytokeratin, villin, poly-Ig receptor (i.e., secretory component) and vasoactive intestinal peptide receptors. All expressed cell surface major histocompatibility complex class I molecules, but cell surface class II antigens were undetectable. Functional studies on antigen presentation were carried out using the MODE-K cell line established from the mouse duodenum. Interferon-gamma treatment of MODE-K cells resulted in a high level of class II molecule expression, and the ability to process and present native protein antigens to specific CD4+ T-cell hybridomas, via functional class II molecules. These data suggest that the MODE-K cell line is a suitable model for the analysis of intestinal epithelial cell function in mucosal immunity.