We had previously shown that the in vitro antibody response to a single epitope (ese; extra sheep E Ag) present on some sheep E but absent from others could be monitored by assay of the plaque-forming cell response on both Lo3 and Hi SRBC. We had shown also that the response was seen only in certain strains of mice and that the gene(s) controlling the response mapped to the IgH V region of the IgH chain complex. An additional feature of the response is that it is only seen in vitro and is absent and, we hypothesize, is suppressed in vivo. The strain distribution of the response to the ese determinant suggested that the response may only use one V gene (or a small set of closely related V genes) that would be present in the responder strains and absent from the nonresponder strains. To test this hypothesis, we made hybridomas with specificity for the ese determinant and for the shared determinants. cDNA from these hybridomas were sequenced. All four anti-ese hybridomas were almost identical in V region sequence, but varied considerably in D and J segment usage, thus confirming the hypothesis that the ese response would be limited at the V segment. The four anti-ese hybridomas used two Vh J558 genes that differed only by one, or possibly two, nucleotide(s). Importantly, these genes are quite different from most other published J558 sequences. The sequence is very similar to an unexpressed sequence from a C57Bl/6 perinatal mouse and slightly less similar to two other Vhb sequences. It was quite similar to two sequences from autoantibodies, one an anti-DNA hybridoma antibody, BXW-14, isolated from an NZB x NZWF1 mouse, and the other, an NZB hybridoma, G8, with specificity for a mouse E Ag. We speculate that the Ig encoded by the V ese gene react with an autoantigen, that the B cells persist in the animal, but that the secretion of Ig is somehow suppressed.