Le(y)-reactive monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) were generated in mice by immunization with synthetic Le(y) neoglycoproteins or with Le(y)-expressing cells. Serological analysis indicated that mAbs raised against synthetic Le(y) (i) reacted strongly with synthetic Le(y) but poorly with natural Le(y), (ii) cross-reacted with Le(x) or H-type 2 structures, and (iii) were IgG1, IgG2a, or IgG2b. mAbs raised against Le(y)-expressing cells (i) reacted with both synthetic Le(y) and natural Le(y), (ii) were of two types: cross-reactive with Le(x) or H-type 2 structures or specific for Le(y), and (iii) were IgM or IgG3. One of the mAbs raised against natural Le(y), mAb 3S193 (IgG3), showed high specificity for Le(y) in ELISA tests with synthetic Le(y) and Le(y) containing glycoproteins and glycolipids; it also reacted strongly in rosetting assays and cytotoxic tests with Le(y)-expressing cells. mAb 3S193 did not lyse O, A, AB, and B human erythrocytes in the presence of human complement. In flow cytometry, there was weak reactivity with granulocytes, a reactivity also observed with two previously described highly specific Le(y) mouse mAbs--BR55-2 (IgG3) and B3 (IgG1). A humanized version of mAb 3S193 has been constructed, and the specificity pattern and reactivity for Le(y) remain very similar to mouse mAb 3S193.