The present study was designed to determine the subcellular localization of histidyl-tRNA synthetase (Jo-1) in human laryngeal epithelial carcinoma cell line (HEp-2 cells). Indirect immunofluorescence using commercial HEp-2 cells with human serum and human-affinity-purified anti-Jo-1 antibodies was performed using confocal microscopy. Anti-histidyl-tRNA-synthetase-positive sera showed distinct nuclear and cytoplasmic granular staining in HEp-2 cells. Affinity purified anti-Jo-1 produced an identical pattern to the whole serum, whereas the serum fraction that did not bind to the affinity column was negative by immunofluorescence on HEp-2 cells. Two commercial human anti-Jo-1-positive control sera and seven anti-Jo-1-positive sera from patients with myositis reproduced the nuclear and cytoplasmic granular pattern. We conclude that Jo-1 is present in cytoplasm and in intact nuclei from HEp-2 cells. The presence of tRNA synthetases in intact nuclei suggests that they have an unsuspected function in the nucleus.