Abstract Antibodies to the RNase-sensitive RNP and to the RNase-resistant Sm nuclear antigens were used to affinity purify these antigens from a saline extract of rabbit thymus acetone powder. Determination of the protein subunits recovered by either glycine-HCl, pH 2.8, or 2.5 M MgCl 2 elution on gradient sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide electrophoresis containing mercaptoethanol revealed that RNP was composed of five proteins with mol. wts from 10,000 to 15,000 whereas Sm contained the same or similar five chains plus six additional subunits with mol. wts from 21,000 to 42,000. RNase treatment of the thymus extract increased the recovery in Sm of the same bands compared to untreated extract. Thus, RNP and Sm appear to have different numbers of protein components and RNP may be a subset of Sm. Sucrose gradient centrifugation of the 125I-labeled, pH 2.8 eluted antigens gave peaks of 3 and 6S for RNP and Sm, respectively. Sucrose gradient centrifugation of the crude untreated thymus extract followed by quantitative single radial immunodiffusion analysis of each fraction produced a broad peak from 16S to the top of the gradient while pretreatment of the extract with RNase resulted in a discrete 6S peak. These results indicate that in rabbit thymus acetone powder native RNP and Sm exist as larger polydisperse complexes with additional material including RNA and that after acid elution or RNase treatment the antigens are found in a smaller monodisperse form.