The differentiation Ag identified by the mAb M1/69 and J11d (commonly referred to as heat-stable Ag) are found in structurally heterogeneous forms on the surfaces of many types of murine hemopoietic cells. The extinction of expression of these antigens is associated with thymocyte maturation and Ig class switching in B cells, as well as terminal differentiation of macrophages. A cDNA encoding the M1/69-J11d peptide was cloned from a hemopoietic progenitor cell line by immunoselection of COS cells transfected with expression libraries. The cloned cDNA is a copy of a gene that is transcribed in M1/69-J11d+ lymphoid, myeloid, and erythroid cells. This gene could be responsible for the expression of all forms of the M1/69-J11d Ag, although there are homologous genes that may encode some forms of the Ag that are specifically expressed in bone marrow. The cloned cDNA encodes a surprisingly small peptide, predicted to contain only 30 amino acids after removal of a signal sequence and displacement of the C-terminal region by the glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol group that anchors the peptide to the cell surface. Almost all of the mass of the M1/69-J11d Ag accumulates through extensive N- and O-linked glycosylation at multiple sites in the short peptide. These carbohydrates are likely to execute the functions of M1/69-J11d Ag, which could be specialized to each cell type as a consequence of differential glycosylation.