Major histocompatibility complex products Class I (HLA Class I) antigens are not expressed on the surface of normal human hepatocytes but become so in pathological conditions. The purpose of this study was to specify the ultrastructural topography of HLA Class I antigens expression. Nine human liver specimens, known from light microscopic investigation to display membranous positivity for HLA Class I antigens, were processed for immunoelectronmicroscopy using monoclonal anti-HLA Class I in an indirect immunoperoxidase procedure. HLA Class I antigens were detected on the basolateral membrane of hepatocytes and bile duct cells; some cisternae of the endoplasmic reticulum were also positive. The membranes of normal bile canaliculi of hepatocytes and the apical border of bile duct cells were negative. In one case of presumably drug-induced cholestasis, abnormal cholestatic canaliculi displayed HLA Class I antigens. These results indicate that HLA Class I antigens are synthesized by the hepatocytes and bile duct cells and incorporated into the plasma membrane; the basolateral expression follows the pattern as in other polarized cells. The expression in cholestatic canaliculi suggests a disturbed polarity of the hepatocyte.