A new lymphocyte differentiation antigen shared by all normal T cells and some malignant B cells was defined by a monoclonal antibody designated 12.1. This antibody reacted with all peripheral blood T cells but not with normal B cells and B cell lines. Analysis with a fluorescence activated cell sorter showed that the expression of 12.1 antigen changes during T cell maturation. Most thymocytes, blasts of acute T cell leukemia, and cells from established leukemic T cell lines bear a small amount of 12.1 antigen. In contrast the majority of peripheral blood T cells, activated T cells, and leukemic T cells of the Sezary syndrome bear a large amount of 12.1 antigen. Unexpectedly, antibody 12.1 reacted with leukemic cells from most patients with B-type chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and some patients with lymphosarcoma cell leukemia (LSCL). Among these leukemias, expression of the 12.1 antigen was not correlated with the stage of B cell maturation, with the amount of surface immunoglobulin on the cells, or with the presence or absence of monoclonal gammapathy. In a comparative serologic analysis the antigen defined by antibody 12.1 was distinct from the p67 T cell antigen (defined by monoclonal antibody 10.2) that is also known to be expressed by B-type CLL cells.