The purpose of these studies was to use monoclonal antibodies to identify and characterize plasma membrane components unique to the vascular endothelium. Our assumption is that such components may perform some of the specialized functions of the endothelium and, by their identification with antibody probes, we may be able to study further their function and structure. Thus, primary cultures of human umbilical vein endothelium were used to immunize mice whose spleen cells were fused with the mouse myeloma cell NS-1. HEC-1 is a monoclonal antibody derived from such a fusion that appears to react with an antigen located only on endothelial cells. The antigen has been characterized by immunoprecipitation and polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis as a glycoprotein with a mol wt of 180,000 daltons under nonreducing conditions and 90,000 daltons under reducing conditions. Despite a close resemblance to a membrane component shown by others to be a receptor for transferrin, several lines of evidence reported in this paper indicate that this is not the function of the HEC-1 antigen. These data show that monoclonal antibodies can be used to identify and characterize membrane components of the vascular endothelium. Moreover, these probes can be used to inquire about the structure and function of the antigen with which they react.