Because of the absence of a specific marker for labeling resident macrophages in the rat, there is almost no information available regarding the properties of individual resident macrophages in different organs. The recently described and in our laboratory developed mAb ED2, has been shown to exclusively recognize resident macrophages. The present study examines expression, function and structure of the ED2 antigen to obtain more information about the marker and therefore, more information about resident macrophages. In earlier studies, the expression of ED2 could not be induced by a range of macrophage stimulating factors under non-adherent culture conditions. We show a highly inducible expression of the ED2 antigen under adhering, non proliferating conditions as well as in long-term bone marrow cultures. ED2 appears to recognize a surface protein on resident macrophages consisting of three protein chains of 175, 160, and 95 kDa.