The mechanisms that govern the content of the human antibody repertoire are poorly understood. To investigate the antibody response to a clinically relevant Ag, we have produced heterohybridomas secreting human antibodies directed against the capsular polysaccharide of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib PS). Immune lymphocytes were harvested 7 days after immunization with either of two vaccine formulations, a plain polysaccharide vaccine (Hib PS) or a polysaccharide-protein conjugate of Hib PS and diphtheria toxoid (Hib PS-D). H chain V region gene nucleic acid sequences were determined for five stable hybridomas. All use members of the VHIII gene family and are 83% to 98% homologous to two candidate germ-line sequences. A variety of D and JH segments are used. Thus the Ig H chain repertoire appears to be restricted to a limited group of VHIII family members. The previously reported expression of homologous sequences in the human fetal repertoire suggests that the inability of young children to respond to this Ag is not caused by deficiencies of these important elements early in development. The restricted use of VHIII gene segments suggests that this gene family plays a pivotal role in the immune response to this important childhood pathogen.

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