A cell surface antigen (gp140) was previously shown to exist on T cell subsets as well as on monocytes and macrophages in normal peripheral blood. Elevated expression of this antigen was associated with immune system disorders, acute lymphocytic leukemias, and in vitro activation of T cells. The antigen could be identified with monoclonal antibody (MAb) T305. Gp140 was a biosynthetic product of T cells because it could be labeled with [3H]leucine or [3H] glucosamine. Biochemical studies of gp140 used high performance liquid chromatography with nitrocellulose blotting to isolate aliquots suitable for 125I radiolabeling and immunoprecipitation to demonstrate: a) a reduction in m.w. of gp140 KD to 90 KD after deglycosylation by trifluoromethanesulfonic acid, b) alteration of isoelectric point from 4.1 to 5.7 after neuraminidase treatments, c) absence of N-linked sugars based on resistance to endoglycosidase F, d) resistance to trypsin and chymotrypsin digestion but susceptibility to pronase, and e) presence of sialic acid and lactosaminoglycan as O-linked sugars. Gp140 could be labeled with the periodate/NaB[3H]4 technique, indicating its similarity to a class of sialoglycoproteins previously described on activated T-cells in mouse and man. The antigenic epitope recognized by MAb T305 contains sialic acid linked (2----3) to galactose; however, periodate oxidation of the exocyclic ring of sialic acid did not affect binding by MAb T305. In an attempt to determine the functional role of gp140, we tested the ability of MAb T305 to block: a) proliferation of peripheral blood lymphocytes to mitogens, b) response to interleukin 2 (IL 2) of an IL 2 dependent T cell line, and c) growth of a T-ALL derived cell line. No inhibition of proliferation or growth was noted. Although the function of gp140 remains unknown, its association with lymphocyte activation and certain disease states suggests that it may provide a target for modulation of the immune response. These studies characterize the structural features of gp140 and further define the epitope recognized by MAb T305.