Abstract The expression and partial purification of recombinant 12 kDa B cell growth factor are reported. The polypeptide was derived from the genomic sequence of the gene ( BCGF 1) which is here shown to be a single copy gene that localizes to human chromosome 16. When expressed as a glutathione S-transferase fusion protein in E. coli, the protein appears as a 38 kDa polypeptide in Western blot analysis using a peptide antibody. The purified fusion protein stimulates the proliferation of activated human B cells in a dose-dependent manner, and the active site resides within the 104 carboxy-terminal amino acids. The availability of biologically active recombinant 12 kDa B cell growth factor will enable its evaluation in B cell growth regulation, and provides a new means of in vitro culturing of human B lymphocytes.