Mitogenesis, cell differentiation and immune-inflammatory responses are regulated by the coordinated assembly of proteases with specific cellular receptors. We have investigated the possibility that immune effector cells may express a high-affinity protease receptor. To address this hypothesis, we have generated mAb to factor V and its activated form Va, a circulating plasma protein that binds the serine protease of the coagulation cascade, factor Xa. Further, by flow microfluorimetry screening, we have isolated a panel of these mAb that recognize a surface molecule expressed on transformed monocytic cells. We now show that these mAb bind to blood monocytes, to CD3- CD16+ CD56+ NK cells, and with considerable heterogeneity, to neutrophils. A small subset of CD3+ cells (5 to 10%) was also identified by these probes and further phenotypically characterized by two-color flow microfluorimetry as predominantly coexpressing CD2, CD4 or CD8, CD57, CD11b, and alpha/beta TCR. This subset of CD3+ cells was expanded in vitro by both lectin- or Ag-specific stimulation. In addition, long term alloreactive stimulation resulted in approximately 8- to 10-fold increased expression of the molecule recognized by these mAb. Functional analyses were performed on a selected T cell clonal derivative of the transformed cell line HuT 78. These cells bound 125I-factor Xa in a specific reaction saturated at 194,000 +/- 26,000 molecules/cell with a Kd approximately 10 to 20 nM and inhibited by the mAb panel described above. These data suggest that immune effector cells express a dynamically regulated protease receptor that is immunologically related to the plasma coagulation protein factor V and its activated form Va. We propose the term effector cell protease receptor-1 to tentatively identify this molecule, and we speculate on its possible involvement in specialized protease-mediated effector functions.