SS-A/Ro is a nucleocytoplasmic ribonucleoprotein (RNP) particle that is a common target of autoimmune response in Sjögren's syndrome (SS) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Previously, SS-A/Ro has been shown to be composed of at least two polypeptide antigens of 60 and 52 kD noncovalently associated with a set of small RNAs, designated Y1-Y5. A serum from an SS patient was selected to screen a lambda gt11 cDNA library constructed from human T cell lymphoblastic leukemia (MOLT-4) mRNA. An immunoreactive clone was isolated that possessed a 1.8-kb cDNA insert. In vitro transcription and translation of the cDNA resulted in the synthesis of a 57.5-kD polypeptide which was specifically immunoprecipitated by SS-A/Ro antisera. The identity of the cDNA encoded protein as the 60-kD SS-A/Ro antigen was established by proteolytic peptide mapping of the cDNA-encoded protein and the 60-kD HeLa cell antigen. The sequence of the cDNA shows that the 60-kD SS-A/Ro protein possesses both RNA binding protein consensus sequences and a single zinc-finger motif. Recombinant SS-A/Ro antigen produced in bacteria proved to be a sensitive and specific reagent for detection of anti-SS-A/Ro antibodies in patient sera. The availability of the 60-kD SS-A/Ro cDNA will enable detailed analysis of the molecular structure and function of the SS-A/Ro RNP particle and its role in autoimmune pathology.