While developing monoclonal antibodies (MoAb) to colorectal carcinoma (CRC) cells, we noted that one MoAb, termed CJA3, down-regulated natural cell-mediated cytotoxicity (NCMC) against CRC cell lines SW480 and SW620. The MoAb CJA3 was developed by immunizing a BALB/c mouse with fresh human colorectal adenocarcinoma cells. The antigen recognized by the MoAb CJA3 was expressed on several solid tumor cell lines and on one of the six lymphoreticular cell lines tested, but was not detected on normal peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL). SDS-PAGE analysis of the antigen immunoprecipitated by the MoAb CJA3 from the CRC cell lines SW480 and SW620 and from the melanoma cell line MALME-3M revealed a component with a m.w. of 150,000. Preincubation of CRC cell lines SW480 and SW620 with the MoAb CJA3 for 16 hr reduced their susceptibility to NCMC by about 50%. Kinetic experiments showed that prolongation of the incubation of target cells with the MoAb CJA3 resulted in a time-dependent increase in the amount of MoAb bound. Maximum binding of the MoAb CJA3 was reached after 4 hr of incubation. The increase in antigen expression chronologically paralleled the decrease in NCMC target cell sensitivity, suggesting that the membrane alterations induced by the MoAb CJA3 were important for NCMC against these two cell lines.