Complexes of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules containing invariant chain (Ii)-derived peptides, known as class II-associated invariant chain peptides (CLIP), are expressed at high levels in presentation-deficient mutant cells. Expression of these complexes in mutant and wild-type antigen-presenting cells suggests that they represent an essential intermediate in the MHC class II antigen-presenting pathway. We have generated a monoclonal antibody, 30-2, which is specific for these complexes. Using this antibody, we have found quantitative differences in CLIP:MHC class II surface expression in mutant and wild-type cells. Our experiments also show that CLIP:MHC class II complexes are preferentially expressed on the cell surface similar to total mature MHC class II molecules. These complexes are found to accumulate in the endosomal compartment in the process of endosomal Ii degradation. Analysis of the fine specificity of the antibody indicates that these complexes have Li peptide bound to the peptide-binding groove.