A monoclonal antibody (K-1-21) raised against a kappa Bence Jones protein exhibits unique binding properties to malignant plasma cells. K-1-21 is an IgG1 kappa antibody that reacts with human kappa light chains in free form, but shows no reactivity with heavy chain-associated kappa light chains. By immunofluorescence, K-1-21 binds to the surface of LICR LON/HMy2 (HMy2) kappa myeloma cells and to plasma cells from a majority (8/11) of patients with various types of kappa myeloma; it did not bind to the surface of normal cells, nor to malignant cells of non-kappa myeloma origin. Flow cytometry analysis of K-1-21 binding to HMy2 cells indicated that the surface reactivity of K-1-21 could be completely inhibited by preincubation of the antibody with purified kappa light chains, whereas no inhibition occurred after preincubation with lambda chains or intact human IgG. Thus, the epitope recognized by K-1-21 on the cell surface may be similar, if not identical, to the determinant recognized on soluble free kappa light chains, and constitutes a tumor-associated antigen with selectivity for kappa myeloma cells. K-1-21 may therefore have clinical potential in patients with kappa myeloma.