Efficient immune responses require interactions between cell adhesion molecules on lymphocytes and counter-receptors on antigen presenting cells or target cells. While target-specific receptors or ligands have not been identified for natural killer (NK) cells, cell adhesion molecules have been implicated in the interaction between NK cell effectors and tumor cell targets. Herein, we describe monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against a carcinoma cell line that efficiently block the cytolytic activity of interleukin 2-activated NK cell lines and clones. L280 mAb reacts with secretory epithelial cells in normal human tissues, but does not react with hematopoietic cells or other tissue types. Biochemical analysis revealed that L280 mAb immunoprecipitates the beta 4, alpha 6 integrin, as well as a novel 98-kD glycoprotein, and probably reacts with a carbohydrate epitope on these molecules. Involvement of the L280 antigen in cellular immunity is not restricted to NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity. L280 mAb also efficiently inhibits alloantigen-specific cytotoxicity against Colo-205 cells mediated by human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A2 alloantigen specific alpha beta-TCR+ and gamma delta-TCR+ cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clones. Additionally, we demonstrate that L280 mAb blocks cytotoxicity mediated by influenza peptide-specific HLA-restricted CTL clones. These data indicate that the antigen recognized by L280 mAb is important in both NK and CTL function, and that an as yet unidentified receptor for this epithelial antigen is present on both NK and T lymphocytes. The restricted expression of L280 antigen indicates that this molecule may be important in immune reactions in epithelial tissues.