Monoclonal antibodies OKB1, OKB2, OKB4 and OKB7 have been previously shown to detect distinctive antigens displayed on B, but not on T, lymphocytes. Benign and malignant lymphoid cells were investigated for their reactivity with these antibodies in cell suspension by indirect immunofluorescence and in cryostat tissue sections by the avidin-biotin complex immunoperoxidase technique. Fetal liver pre-B cells and pre-B and common type acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells isolated from 15 patients were OKB1-OKB2+OKB4-OKB7-. All mature lymphoid tissue B cells and the neoplastic cell surface immunoglobulin-positive (SIg+) B cells isolated from each of 47 B cell neoplasms were OKB2+. OKB1 and OKB7 were expressed by interfollicular, follicular center, and many, but not all, mantle zone B cells. OKB4 was expressed by follicular center cells, but not by mantle zone or interfollicular B cells. The neoplastic SIg+ B cells isolated from 45 of 47 B cell malignancies were OKB1+OKB4+, and those isolated from 45 of 46 B cell malignancies were OKB7+. The neoplastic B cells of one mantle zone lymphoma were OKB1-, of one small lymphocytic cell lymphoma were OKB7-, of one large cell lymphoma were OKB4-, and of one small lymphocytic cell lymphoma with a monoclonal gammopathy were OKB1-OKB4-. Normal and myeloma plasma cells were OKB-. The malignant T cells isolated from 12 T cell neoplasms were OKB2-OKB4-, but were OKB1+ and/or OKB7+ in 3 cases. Thus, the OKB antibodies appear to detect distinctive antigens that may be expressed at different stages of B cell differentiation. In addition, OKB4 reacted with selected renal and respiratory epithelium, and OKB2 reacted with a wide range of epithelial tissues. The OKB antibodies should prove useful in the investigation of B cell differentiation and may aid in the identification and characterization of lymphoproliferative malignancies with significant therapeutic and prognostic differences not identifiable by conventional histopathologic and immunologic methods.