Some mAbs recognizing polymorphic epitopes of HLA-DR molecules exhibit striking differences of reactivity with the same HLA-DR molecules expressed by different cell types. In this study, we investigated the basis for the differential reactivity of the polymorphic anti-DR mAb OHA TM901 with HLA-DR9 molecules expressed by human PBLs or LCLs. By immunoprecipitation experiments we showed that OHA TM901 recognizes a subset of HLA-DR9 molecules from LCLs. This subset corresponds to HLA-DR9 molecules containing immature-type oligosaccharides. The absence of OHA TM901 reactivity with HLA-DR9 PBLs, as revealed by cytofluorometry analysis, suggests that this subset is either not expressed or expressed at a very low level on PBLs. These results indicate that overexpression of HLA-DR molecules in immortalized LCLs could lead to cell-surface expression of underglycosylated forms which are generally not found on the cell surface of PBLs.