A full-length cDNA clone for human thyroid peroxidase (TPO) inserted into the mammalian cell expression vector pECE was stably transfected into Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. Clones were assayed for human TPO mRNA, TPO protein, and TPO enzymatic activity. One subclone, expressing the highest TPO enzymatic activity, was used in further studies. FACS analysis of these cells preincubated in Hashimoto's serum revealed approximately 100-fold greater fluorescence compared with controls, indicating that recombinant TPO is expressed on the cell surface. Particulate antigen was extracted from these cells and studied by Western blot analysis using a panel of Hashimoto's sera of known antimicrosomal antibody (anti-MSA) titer. Under nonreducing conditions a broad, immunoreactive band of 200 kD was observed, as well as a doublet of 110 kD. All of the 36 Hashimoto's sera tested reacted with these bands, most in proportion to their anti-MSA titer. Six normal sera tested against this antigen(s) were nonreactive, as were the Hashimoto's sera tested against nontransfected CHO cells. Western blots under reducing conditions revealed a considerably diminished signal, with some of the sera of lower anti-MSA titer becoming negative, the loss of the 200-kD broad band, and the apparent conversion of the 110-kD doublet into a single band. Preincubation of cells in tunicamycin revealed no decrease in TPO immunoreactivity. In conclusion, we expressed enzymaticaliy active human TPO in nonthyroidal eukaryotic cells. Our data prove that functionally active TPO is a major component of the thyroid microsomal antigen.