Rabbit is one of several species that depend on development of B lymphocytes in gut-associated lymphoid tissues for primary immunoglobulin-repertoire diversification. The rabbit appendix is an important site of early B-lymphocyte development. We previously reported that peripheral lymph node addressin detected by monoclonal antibody (mAb) MECA-79 played a role in recruitment of immature blood-borne B cells into neonatal rabbit appendix. Here, we report expression of an ∼127 000 MW O-linked sulphated proteoglycan on developing B cells in appendix and Peyer's patches recognized by the mAb MECA-79. Binding of the mAb to B lymphocytes was sensitive to enzyme treatment with O-sialoglycoprotease and expression was partially inhibited by sodium chlorate, a metabolic inhibitor of sulphation. The proportions of MECA-79+ B lymphocytes gradually increased from < 0·5% at 3 days to > 70% at 6 weeks in appendix and Peyer's patches. The proportions of MECA-79+ B lymphocytes in spleen and peripheral blood were very low (0·5–2%). However, the MECA-79 determinant was detected on B cells in splenic germinal centres after immunization. In situ labelling of appendix cells showed that the MECA-79 determinant was expressed on fluorescein-labelled B lymphocytes that migrated from appendix into mesenteric lymph nodes. B-cell MECA-79 may be involved in interactions with T cells and/or dendritic cells. Alternatively, because we found that lymphatic endothelium in the thymus-dependent area of appendix, a site for lymphocyte exit, expressed P-selectin (CD62P), interaction of the MECA-79 determinant on B cells with CD62P may have a role in the exit of B lymphocytes from rabbit appendix.