Properties of the Fc receptor for IgE (FC epsilon R) on cultured human B lymphoblastoid cells (RPMI 8866) were studied. Specificity for human IgE (hIgE) was demonstrated by inhibition studies with both Fc epsilon R+ intact cell and detergent-solubilized receptor preparations. No interaction of the FC epsilon R with other hIg classes or with rodent IgE was seen. In other studies, 3,3-dithiobis(sulfosuccinimidyl) propionate was used to cross-link hIgE to 125I surface-labeled 8866 cells. After detergent solubilization, the 125I receptor components were isolated by immunoprecipitation, and receptor peptides of 83 and 46 kilodalton kD were demonstrated by SDS-PAGE in the presence of reducing agents. Cross-linking performed after detergent solubilization gave identical results. Tryptic maps of the 83 and 46 kD polypeptides were identical with respect to surface-iodinated peptides; this indicates a structural homology between these components. The 83 kD component was more difficult to elute from IgE affinity columns, potentially because of an increased number of IgE binding sites per FC epsilon R molecule. Limited proteolysis studies of the purified FC epsilon R with papain and V8 protease from Staphylococcus aureus demonstrated that a 16 kD FC epsilon R fragment was rapidly produced. This component was also seen after papain treatment of intact cells, and it retained the ability to interact with anti-FC epsilon R antisera and, at least in the absence of detergent, with hIgE affinity columns. Potential relationships between the FC epsilon R and lymphokines that modulate the IgE response (IgE-binding factors) are discussed.