A hybrid cell line (hybridoma) has been isolated after fusion between mouse-plasmacytoma cells and spleen cells from mice immunized with a thymine dimer-containing tetranucleotide coupled to a carrier protein. Monoclonal antibodies produced by this hybridoma were characterized by testing the effect of various inhibitors in a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The antibodies have a high specificity for thymine dimers in single-stranded DNA or poly(dT), but do not bind UV-irradiated d(TpC)/sub 5/. Less binding is observed with short thymine dimer-containing sequences. In vitro treatment of UV-irradiated DNA with photoreactivating enzyme in the presence of light, or with Micrococcus luteus UV-endonuclease results in disappearance of antigenicity. Antibody-binding to DNA isolated from UV-irradiated human fibroblasts (at 254 nm) is linear with dose. Removal of thymine dimers in these cells during a post-irradiation incubation, as detected with the antibodies, is fast initially but the rate rapidly decreases (about 50% residual dimers at 20 h after 10 J/m/sup 2/). The induction of thymine dimers in human skin irradiated with low doses of UV-B, too, was demonstrated immunochemically, by ELISA as well as by quantitative immunofluorescence microscopy.