The B cell antigen receptor of class IgM is a multimeric protein complex containing the membrane-bound immunoglobulin molecule and a heterodimer of the two B cell-specific transmembrane proteins Ig-alpha and Ig-beta. The B cell antigen receptor fulfills a dual role on the surface of B cells. First, it is a signal transduction complex which can activate protein tyrosine kinases and induce the release of Ca2+ ions from intracellular stores. Second, its internalization mediates the specific uptake of bound antigens, which are processed intracellularly and presented as major histocompatibility complex-bound peptides on the cell surface. In case of the IgM antigen receptor, the association with the heterodimer is necessary for expression of large amounts of IgM on the surface. We show here that the IgG2a antigen receptor can be expressed on the surface of myeloma cells in two structurally different forms: either with or without the Ig-alpha/Ig-beta heterodimer. A functional comparison of the two forms of antigen receptors demonstrates that the Ig-alpha and Ig-beta molecules are required for the activation of protein tyrosine kinases after cross-linking of the B cell antigen receptor. In contrast, both forms of IgG2a are equally well internalized. This suggests that Ig-alpha and Ig-beta are essential for signal transduction through the IgG2a antigen receptor, whereas internalization can occur independently of the heterodimer.