Murine suppressor T-cell hybridoma cells (231F1) secrete not only bioactive glycosylation-inhibiting factor (GIF) but also an inactive peptide comparable to bioactive GIF peptide in its molecular size and reactivity with anti-GIF; the amino acid sequence of the inactive peptide is identical to that of the bioactive homologue. The inactive GIF peptide in culture supernatant of both the 231F1 cells and a stable transfectant of human GIF cDNA in the murine suppressor T hybridoma selectively bound to Affi-Gel 10, whereas bioactive GIF peptides from the same sources failed to bind to the gel. The inactive cytosolic human GIF from the stable transfectant and Escherichia coli-derived recombinant human GIF also had affinity for Affi-Gel 10. Both the bioactive murine GIF peptide from the suppressor T hybridoma and bioactive recombinant human GIF from the stable transfectant bound to the anti-I-J monoclonal antibody H6 coupled to Affi-Gel. However, bioactive hGIF produced by a stable transfectant of human GIF cDNA in BMT10 cells failed to be retained in H6-coupled Affi-Gel. These results indicate that the I-J specificity is determined by the cell source of the GIF peptide and that the I-J determinant recognized by monoclonal antibody H6 does not represent a part of the primary amino acid sequence of GIF. It appears that the epitope is generated by a posttranslational modification of the peptide.