Previous work (6-10) has shown that allelic exclusion of Ig gene expression is controlled by functionally rearranged mu and kappa genes. This report deals with the comparison of membrane mu (micron) and secreted mu (microsecond) in promoting such feedback inhibition. Splenic B cell hybridomas were analyzed from transgenic mice harboring a rearranged kappa gene alone or in combination with either an intact rearranged mu gene or a truncated version of the mu gene. The intact mu gene is capable of producing both membrane and secreted forms of the protein, while the truncated version can only encode the secreted form. The role of the microsecond was also tested in pre-B cell lines. Analysis of the extent of endogenous Ig gene rearrangement revealed that (a) the production of micron together with kappa can terminate Ig gene rearrangement; (b) microsecond with kappa does not have this feedback effect; (c) microsecond may interfere with the effect of micron and kappa; and (d) the feedback shown here probably represents a complete shutoff of the specific recombinase by micron + kappa; the data do not address the question of mu alone affecting the accessibility of H genes for rearrangement.