We show here for the first time that pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells express the CD4 antigen. CD4+ cells isolated from mouse marrow repopulated all hematopoietic lineages in both the long-term repopulation assay and the competitive repopulation assay. This finding indicates that the CD4+ population contains primitive stem cells with extensive repopulation capacity. Interestingly, the CD4- population had significant life-sparing activity, even though this population was depleted of long-term repopulating stem cells when compared with CD4+ cells. The majority of the cells that respond to the stroma in Whitlock- Witte cultures with B-cell differentiation were recovered in the CD4- population. Thus, this bone marrow (BM)-derived B-cell precursor lacks CD4, which is in contrast to myeloid precursors and thymus-derived lymphoid precursors that reportedly express CD4. We show further that the CD4 molecule expressed on BM cells is similar in molecular weight and epitope makeup to the CD4 antigen found on thymocytes. Detection of CD4 on BM cells is dependent on using high concentrations of antibodies. Thus, it is not surprising that expression of CD4 on pluripotent stem cells has been missed previously. Taken together, our data suggest that the CD4 molecule may play an important role in lineage definition in early hematopoietic differentiation.