We characterized phenotypic and functional properties of B cell lines obtained from patients with multiple myeloma to determine how well they conform to particular stages of B cell differentiation. This information is a prerequisite for using such lines as tools for studying B cell growth and the regulation thereof. Two lines, GM1312 and GM1500, expressed B1 and Ia, determinants on early B cells, but expressed little, if any, T10, a determinant expressed on plasma cells. By contrast, B1 and Ia were poorly expressed on two other lines, GM2132 and U266. T10 was expressed on GM2132 but not on U266. Using a reverse hemolytic plaque assay, we also assessed the numbers of cells actively secreting immunoglobulin (IgSCs) in such cultures to provide a functional marker of B cell differentiation. We observed consistently higher numbers of IgSCs in cultures of GM2132 than in GM1500 and GM1312. These phenotypic and functional markers were stable over several months. The data suggest that such cell lines represent early (GM1312, GM1500) and later stages (GM2132, U266) of B cell differentiation, although all lines were derived from patients with multiple myeloma.