Human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules are heterodimeric glycoproteins composed of non-covalently associated alpha and beta chains. Only isotype-matched alpha-beta associations have been described in man; these can occur either by cis- or trans-complementation (HLA-DR, DQ, DP). Here evidence is provided for the existence of a new type of hybrid molecule (DR alpha-DQ beta) arising by mixed-isotype pairing in human B-cell lines. Class II isotype-mismatched heterodimers have been recently reported in the mouse after transfection of class II genes, and our data demonstrate that such interisotypic pairing can occur in untransfected cells. This crosspairing greatly enhances the repertoire of the class II antigens that regulate immune responses and leads us to reconsider the HLA-disease association.