Adrenal chromaffin cells, sympathetic neurons, and small intensely fluorescent (SIF) cells are each derived from the neural crest, produce catecholamines, and share certain morphological features. These cell types are also partially interconvertible in cell culture (Doupe et al., 1985a,b; Anderson and Axel, 1986). Thus, these cells are said to be members of the sympathoadrenal (SA) lineage and could share a common progenitor. To investigate the origins of this lineage further, we used the cyclophosphamide immuno-suppression method (Matthew and Patterson, 1983) to generate five monoclonal antibodies (SA1-5) that bind strongly to chromaffin cells, with little or no labeling of sympathetic neurons or SIF cells in frozen sections from adult rats. Competition experiments indicate that these antibodies bind to at least three distinct epitopes in tissue sections. The SA antibodies also label most of the cells of embryonic sympathetic ganglia and adrenal primordia. Labeling of sympathetic ganglia appears as the cells initially coalesce and express high levels of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). Not all TH+ cells in the embryo are SA 1-5+, however; carotid body SIF cells, nodose ganglion TH+ cells, and the transiently TH+ cells in the dorsal root ganglia do not display detectable SA 1-5 labeling. Thus, the expression of these markers for the SA 1-5 lineage is selective. SA antigen expression is hormonally controlled; removal of glucocorticoid and addition of NGF to cultured adrenal chromaffin cells result in the loss of SA 1-5 labeling. These results suggest that the presumed precursors for sympathetic neurons and SIF cells initially express chromaffin cell markers.