Random sequencing of clones from a lambda gt10 cDNA library, made from mRNA expressed in an Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) has revealed the gene transcript of human CD24. The CD24 antigen, a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored cell surface molecule, has been identified as a B-cell marker that is lost during cell maturation. We show here that it is expressed on 3 NPC xenografts, previously defined as consisting of poorly differentiated epithelial cells, and on an NPC biopsy. In the case of the former, the level of expression of CD24 corresponds to the EBV load. A B-lymphoblastoid cell line carrying the same EBV genome as one of the tumours, C15, and an EBV-negative Burkitt's lymphoma cell line do not display the antigen, but epithelial-like cells of a laryngeal tumour cell line (Hep2) do express it. Our data suggest that CD24 may be a marker of cell differentiation not only for B cells but also for epithelial cells and may have an indirect association with EBV gene expression.