Five monoclonal antibodies reactive with human interferon (HuIFN)-alpha 2, but not with HuIFN-alpha 1, have been analyzed for their reaction with a series of IFN analogues and hybrid IFN molecules. Using analogues containing alpha 1 or gamma substitutions, it was shown that amino acids in the 107 to 113 region are implicated in the epitopes recognized by four of the five antibodies tested. Surprisingly, two of the antibodies that did not react with [alpha 1(113 to 114)112 to 113]alpha 2 also did not react with a truncated IFN-alpha 2(4 to 155). The presence of an epitope determined by amino acids at 112 and 113 and by the amino and carboxyl ends of the molecule supports a model for IFN where the carboxyl- and amino-terminals are adjacent to the proposed reverse turn around amino acid 110 to 115. The fifth alpha 2 specific antibody whose reaction with HuIFN-alpha 2 is not affected by the above substitutions and truncations recognizes IFN or IFN hybrids that, like alpha 2, have arginine at position 120, but does not react with IFN that, like alpha 1, have lysine at position 120. Amino acids 107 to 113 and 120 lie in regions of the molecule that have high hydrophilicity and are probably structurally involved in the epitopes recognized by the antibodies. Under conditions of antibody excess, the antibodies described here inhibit binding of HuIFN-alpha 2 to both human and bovine cells.