The MRL strain of mice is a model system that closely parallels the human autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus. Our analysis of the variable region genes of MRL mice showed that the MRL/lpr D genes were similar to those of the C3H mouse (Igh-C allotype j). This result was unexpected, because previous studies of the MRL/lpr and MRL/+ substrains suggested that they are allotype a at the Igh-1 (gamma 2a) locus of the constant region. The Igh-V (heavy chain variable region) locus of the MRL/lpr and MRL/+ strains of mice and their parents were therefore examined by restriction fragment length polymorphism with probes for the DSP2 and DFL16 gene families and with two cloned VH probes. Five other strains of mice were also included because the heavy chain locus of the LG mouse, which is the major progenitor of the MRL strains, has not been studied. The MRL substrains and the LG and C3H parents were indistinguishable at all the Igh-V loci studied. These results suggest that the MRL substrains and their LG parent are haplotype j at the Igh-V locus. The results obtained with D gene probes show that the DSP2 gene family is more polymorphic than the DFL16 gene family, which is relatively conserved. We have assigned Igh-V haplotypes for the four VH loci to the 11 strains of mice studied.