We have recently described a signal transducing molecule, 2B4, expressed on all NK and T cells that mediate non-MHC-restricted killing. The gene encoding this molecule was cloned and its nucleotide sequence determined. The encoded protein of 398 amino acids has a leader peptide of 18 amino acids and a transmembrane region of 24 amino acids. The predicted protein has eight N-linked glycosylation sites, suggesting that it is highly glycosylated. Comparison of 2B4 with sequences in the databanks indicates that 2B4 is a member of Ig supergene family, and it shows homology to murine and rat CD48 and human LFA-3. Northern blot analysis has shown at least three transcripts for 2B4 in adherent lymphokine-activated killer cells of several mouse strains and TCR-gamma/delta dendritic epidermal T cell lines but not in allospecific T cell clones. These three mRNA are the products of differential splicing of heterogeneous nuclear RNA. Southern blot analysis of genomic DNA from several mouse strains revealed that 2B4 belongs to a family of closely related genes. The 2B4 gene has been mapped to mouse chromosome 1 by analysis of 2B4 expression in recombinant inbred mouse strains.