A rat mAb (NIM-R5) has recently been prepared against a novel murine B cell activation marker. We report here isolation of a cDNA (1-19) encoding the B cell-derived protein recognized by NIM-R5 antibody. This cDNA contains an open reading frame that encodes a polypeptide of 304 amino acids with a predicted molecular weight of 34,500. The existence of a 22-amino acid hydrophobic region located 23 amino acids from the amino terminal of the deduced protein, together with four potential N-linked glycosylation sites, characterize the deduced protein encoded by 1-19 cDNA as a typical type II transmembrane glycoprotein. Although 1-19 cDNA appears to encode a novel murine protein, its nucleotide sequence and deduced amino acid sequence show approximately 70% homology to the previously reported sequence of human CD38, suggesting that 1-19 cDNA encodes either the mouse homologue of CD38 or a closely related protein. Northern blot analysis of the expression of this cDNA product in a variety of cell types, together with immunoprecipitation of the recombinant protein expressed in BaF3 cells, indicated that 1-19 cDNA encodes not only the epitope recognized by NIM-R5 but also a protein that is indistinguishable biochemically and in terms of distribution from the murine B cell activation marker recognized by NIM-R5 antibody. Chromosomal mapping studies have localized this locus to the proximal region of mouse chromosome 5. We anticipate that the availability of probes for the murine B cell activation marker recognized by NIM-R5, and the recombinant protein itself, will greatly aid efforts to define the role of this molecule in murine B cell development.