Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) directed against two phenotypically distinct ovine lentivirus (OvLV) strains were generated by fusion of BALB/c SP2/0-Ag 14 myeloma cells with spleen cells from mice immunized with purified OvLV. Hybridomas were selected by indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and analysis of reactivity on immunoblots. The majority (17 of 21) of the MAbs recognized the gag-encoded capsid protein, CA p27, of both strains. Four other MAbs recognized a smaller structural protein, presumably a matrix protein, MA p17. Three distinct epitopes on CA p27 and one on MA p17 were distinguished by the MAbs with competition ELISA. MAbs from each epitope group were able to recognize 17 North American field isolates of OvLV and the closely related caprine arthritis-encephalitis virus (CAEV). Analysis of the data indicated that these epitopes were highly conserved among naturally occurring isolates. A representative MAb from each epitope group of anti-CA p27 MAbs reacted with four field strains of OvLV and CAEV on immunoblots. An anti-MA p17 MAb recognized the same OvLV strains on immunoblots but failed to recognize CAEV. MAbs which recognize conserved epitopes of gag-encoded lentivirus proteins (CA p27 and MA p17) are valuable tools. These MAbs can be used to develop sensitive diagnostic assays and to study the pathogenesis of lentivirus infections in sheep and goats.