MPB70 and MPB83 are homologous cross-reactive secreted mycobacterial proteins with very limited species distribution. The expression of these two proteins was compared between several substrains of Mycobacterium bovis BCG, virulent M. bovis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv. A polyclonal antibody specific for MPB70 in Western blotting, and a monoclonal antibody, MBS43, found to be specific for MPB83 in ELISA and Western blotting, were used for the comparison. The previously established pattern of high- and low-producing substrains of BCG for MPB70 is only partially applicable for MPB83. MPB70 low-producing strains are also MPB83 low-producing, but the expression of MPB83 is much more variable than the expression of MPB70 in the MPB70 high-producing strains. Purified MPB83 (23 kDa) was found to be glycosylated. A band in SDS-PAGE at 1-2 kDa lower than that of purified MPB83 may represent unglycosylated MPB83. Furthermore, it was confirmed that purified MPB70 (22 kDa) is unglycosylated. There is cross-reactive antigen at 26 kDa. The MPB83 related antigen at 26 kDa was found to be the most abundant. These findings indicate greater heterogeneity between different substrains of BCG than previously realized. Virulent M. bovis produce and secrete large amounts of MPB70 and MPB83 while both these proteins occur in a far lower concentration in M. tuberculosis.