Two monoclonal antibodies to mouse Ia antigens were produced by fusion of xenoimmune rat spleen cells with the NSI myeloma. These monoclonal antibodies detect polymorphic determinants present on B cells and activated T lymphocytes from mice carrying the H-2b, H-2d, H-2k, H-2r, and H-2q haplotypes but not from mice carrying the H-2s or H-2r haplotypes. Antigenic site number determinations showed the positive haplotypes can be divided into 2 groups. Mice bearing the H-2b, H-2d, and H-2q haplotypes express a high number--40,000 to 80,000--of antigenic sites per B lymphocyte, and monoclonal antibody plus complement can lyse B cells from these mice. In contrast, mice bearing the H-2k and H-2r haplotypes express a low number of antigenic sites--about 5000 per cell. Spleen cells from mice carrying the latter haplotypes are not lysed with monoclonal antibody and complement. Genetic mapping demonstrated that high and low expression map to the I-A and I-E subregions, respectively. The monoclonal antibodies detect an Ia specificity on I-Ab, I-Ad, I-Ed, and I-Ek molecules. These observations were confirmed using several different experimental approaches, i.e., cytotoxicity, fluorescent staining, competitive inhibition of monoclonal antibody binding, and 2-dimensional gel electrophoresis of immunoprecipitates. The avidity for A alpha b A beta b and E alpha k E beta k is 5 to 7 x 10(-9) M-1. The antigenic determinant is heat labile, which suggests that it is not carbohydrate. The results imply that Ia antigens encoded by distinct subregions share sequence homology, which may be a consequence of ancestral gene duplication.