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In reticulocytes, the enzyme 15-lipoxygenase (15-LO) is believed to contribute to cellular differentiation, and in leukocytes and airway cells 15-LO generates inflammatory mediators. The recent availability of antibodies to 15-LO now allows us to determine which specific cells contain the enzyme, to characterize its subcellular localization, and to determine its expression at the translational level. A polyclonal antibody to recombinant human reticulocyte 15-LO was used with a standard immunofluorescent technique. In rabbit red blood cells, fluorescence appeared during the course of anemia. Early reticulocytes did not fluoresce, but more mature reticulocytes showed increased fluorescent intensity. Late reticulocytes contained little fluorescence. Among human leukocytes, only eosinophils fluoresced. In human trachea, 15-LO immunofluorescence was localized to epithelial cells, and both basal and ciliated cells fluoresced. In all cells studied, fluorescence was localized to the cytoplasm and was variable in degree among cells in each preparation. We conclude that the 15-LO of airway cells and eosinophils is immunologically related to the reticulocyte 15-LO. Furthermore, the variable fluorescence among cells (e.g., in epithelium) and during development (e.g., reticulocytes) suggests a role of 15-LO in cell growth and development.