We have used a panel of well-characterized monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) to examine the blood cells of a patient with a novel form of congenital dyserythropoietic anemia (CDA) characterized by intra- erythroblastic and intra-erythrocytic membranous inclusions. Twelve antibodies defining three nonoverlapping epitope groups on the extracellular domain of CD44 all failed to react with the red blood cells (RBCs) of the patient. A rabbit antibody to the cytoplasmic domain of CD44 from normal RBCs failed to react with the patient's RBC ghosts. In contrast, the patient's lymphocytes, granulocytes, and monocytes showed apparently normal CD44 expression. Bone marrow preparations stained with CD44 antibodies and visualized with 125I antimouse Ig (F(ab')2) followed by autoradiography showed positive staining of lymphocytes and myeloid cells but not of most orthotolidine- positive erythroblasts. The patient's RBCs also gave weaker than normal reactions with MoAbs of anti-LWab specificity while MoAbs to glycophorins A, B, and C, Rh polypeptides, CD47, CD55, CD58, CD59, acetylcholinesterase, and Lutheran and Kell glycoproteins all gave normal reactions. Agglutination tests with human blood grouping sera demonstrated that the RBCs of the patient have the unique phenotype In(a-b-), Co(a-b-) and that they also lack the high incidence RBC antigen AnWj. The phenotype In(a-b-) would be expected because these antigens are known to be expressed on CD44. There is also some evidence associating the AnWj antigen with CD44. However, the CO blood group locus is on chromosome 7p whereas that for CD44 is on chromosome 11p. Quantitative binding assays using 125I-labeled Fab fragments of CD44 antibodies did not show any evidence for reduced levels of CD44 on RBCs from the parents of the patient or from her unaffected sister. The parents and sister had the common Colton blood group phenotype [Co(a+b- )]. Neither deficiency of CD44 nor absence of Colton antigens are general features of CDA because erythrocytes from patients with CDA I, CDA II, CDA III, and two other unclassified CDAs had normal expression of CD44 and normal Colton blood group phenotypes. Further analysis of the defect(s) present in the patient's erythroid cells may provide useful information regarding membrane assembly and the regulation of differentiation in normal erythroid cells.