CD27, a member of the TNFR family, is expressed on most but not all peripheral blood CD4+ T cells. The small fraction of CD4+ T cells with a CD27- phenotype exclusively reside within the CD45RA-CD45RO+ subset. We previously provided evidence that CD27- cells are functionally differentiated cells that have lost CD27 expression as a result of persistent antigenic stimulation. We here show that compared with CD4+CD45RA-CD27+ cells, CD4+CD45RA-CD27- lymphocytes have a high expression of the beta 1 integrins VLA-4 and -5 and of the beta 2 integrin CD11b. Molecules implicated in homing of T cells to peripheral lymphnodes like CD31 and CD62L (L-selectin) are poorly expressed on CD27- cells, whereas receptors involved in organ-specific homing, e.g., cutaneous lymphocyte Ag and HML-1 (alpha E beta 7), are present on CD27- rather than CD27+ T lymphocytes. CD27+ and CD27- cells do not differ notably in the expression of activation molecules such as CD25, CD38, and CD70 (CD27 ligand) but CD7 is markedly absent on approximately half of the CD27- cells. Analysis of mutations in the HPRT gene, as measurement for the amount of cell divisions that have occurred in particular T cell populations in vivo, showed that CD45R0+ cells have a 2 to 5 times higher mutant frequency than CD45RA+ cells, whereas CD45R0+CD27- cells do not differ in this respect from CD45R0+CD27+ cells. In line with this latter finding, cells in G2M phase can only be found in the transitional, CD45RAbrightCD45R0bright subset but not in CD45R0+, CD45RA-, or CD27- cells. Our results imply that the CD27- population contains tissue-specific, specialized "primed" T cells that evolve in vivo independently from extensive cellular division.