Most mature B lymphocytes coexpress two classes of antigen receptor, immunoglobulin (Ig)M and IgD. The differences in the signal transduction from the two receptors are still a matter of controversy. We have analyzed B cell lines expressing IgM or IgD antigen receptors with the same antigen specificity. Cross-linking of these receptors with either antigen, or class-specific antibodies, results in the activation of protein tyrosine kinases and the phosphorylation of the same substrate proteins. The kinetic and the intensity of phosphorylation, however, was quite different between the two receptors when they were cross-linked by antigen. In membrane IgM-expressing cells, the substrate phosphorylation reached a maximum after 1 minute and diminished after 60 minutes whereas, in the membrane IgD-expressing cells, the substrate phosphorylation increased further over time, reached its maximum at 60 minutes, and persisted longer than 240 minutes after exposure to antigen. As a result, the intensity of protein tyrosine phosphorylation induced by cross-linking of membrane IgD was stronger than that induced by membrane IgM. Studies of chimeric receptors demonstrate that only the membrane-proximal C domain and/or the transmembrane part of membrane-bound IgD molecule is required for the long-lasting substrate phosphorylation. Together, these data suggest that the signal emission from the two receptors is controlled differently.