alpha2-Macroglobulin levels in the supernates of cultures of different subpopulations of human peripheral blood mononuclear leukocytes were assayed by a radioimmunoassay. Unfractionated mononuclear leukocytes produced greater amounts of the macroglobulin (4.0 vs. 0.8 ng/10(6) cells) than did subpopulations enriched in T or B+T lymphocytes, by passage through nylon wool or cotton wool columns, respectively. Still higher concentrations of alpha2-macroglobulin (40 ng/10(6) cells) were measured in the supernates of glass-adherent mononuclear leukocyte cultures. These results suggest that cells of monocyte-macrophage lineage are mainly, if not exclusively, responsible for the appearance of alpha2- macroglobulin in the supernate of human peripheral blood leukocyte cultures. The de novo synthesis and release of alpha2-macroglobulin by cultured monocytes was demonstrated by immunoprecipitation of radioactivity from supernates of 32S-methionine-labeled glass-adherent cells. Antiserum against purified alpha2-macroglobulin was used in both Ouchterlony double diffusion and double antibody precipitation tests. SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of immunoprecipitates showed that most of the radioactivity comigrated with authentic alpha2-macroglobulin subunit at about 160,000 daltons.