The present study was aimed at identifying surface-membrane molecules involved in the regulation of human B-cell ontogeny. For this purpose, murine monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) were generated against Pre-Alp, a pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cell line, and MoAb R34.34 was selected for further characterization. R34.34 recognized a molecule expressed on normal B-cell precursors (BCP) but not on mature B cells. The antibody also reacted with T lymphocytes, a subpopulation of monocytes from peripheral blood, and a subset of CD34+ cells. Immunoprecipitation analysis indicated that R34.34 recognizes an 80-kD molecular weight antigen. Antibody R34.34 was further found to be directed against an epitope interfering with binding of interleukin-7 (IL-7) to Pre-Alp cells. Expression cloning from a Pre-Alp cDNA library showed that R34.34 antigen is CDw127, the 75- to 80-kD IL-7 receptor. Proliferation of the B-lineage ALL cell lines Reh and Mieliki was inhibited by IL-7, and this effect was specifically reverted by MoAb R34.34. In addition, antibody R34.34 specifically inhibited IL-7- dependent proliferation of normal BCP, Pre-Alp cells, and peripheral T cells. These results imply that both inhibitory and proliferative effects of IL-7 can be mediated through the same receptor on various lineages. R34.34 antibody should be important for the analysis of signal transduction through CDw127.