The expression of IgM and IgD heavy chain mRNA in resting vs activated B cells offers a unique tool for the assessment of the effect of translation on mRNA stability because mu and delta mRNA have identical VDJ sequences but differ substantially in the rest of the molecule. We have shown that despite the 5' UTR identity that allows equal access to the translation machinery, mu mRNA has a significantly higher turnover rate than delta mRNA. However, the short t1/2 of mu mRNA increases significantly after B cell activation. Furthermore, the induction of microS mRNA after B cell activation provides yet another related molecule for comparison. Thus, despite the fact that microS and microM mRNA differ at their 3' ends, they have identical turnover rates in activated B cells. In addition, because the turnover rates of delta mRNA and beta 2 and GAPDH mRNA remain unchanged, these experiments suggest that B cell activation results in the induction of regulatory factor(s) that target specific sequences within mRNA-mu to confer greater stability. They also argue against a more passive regulation of mRNA stability that is a consequence of alterations in the secretory machinery.