Monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) to the eosinophil cytotoxicity-enhancing factor (ECEF) were used to detect ECEF in U937 cells before and after phorbol ester (PMA)-induced differentiation into ECEF-secreting macrophages. Membrane-associated ECEF (mECEF), apparently an integral membrane component, is found in U937 cells and in 70% of monocytes and, at lower levels, on blood T lymphocytes. Expression of mECEF in U937 cells is heterogeneous, as is responsiveness to PMA. In PMA-treated cultures, the strongest mECEF expression is on adherent, differentiated macrophages, rather than on activated, nonadherent cells. To study the relationship of mECEF to PMA responsiveness, we positively selected by “panning” a cell line (U937 P+) with significantly higher mECEF expression than that of U937. U937 P+ cells respond to PMA as a differentiation stimulus more effectively than do U937 cells, with a fourfold increase in the number of differentiated macrophages (P less than .001) and a faster rate of differentiation (a fourfold increase at t = 12 hours, P less than .001). U937 P+ cells also show a 7.4-fold increase in response to suboptimal doses of PMA (P less than .001). These findings suggest that mECEF expression correlates with responsiveness to a differentiation stimulus in a histiocytic lymphoma cell line that is widely used as a model of monocyte maturation.