The cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase, Bruton's tyrosine kinase (Btk, formerly bpk or atk), is crucial for B cell development. Loss of kinase activity results in the human immunodeficiency, X-linked agammaglobulinemia, characterized by a failure to produce B cells. In the murine X-linked immunodeficiency (XID), B cells are present but respond abnormally to activating signals. The Btk gene, btk, was mapped to the xid region of the mouse X chromosome by interspecific backcross analysis. A single conserved residue within the amino terminal unique region of Btk was mutated in XID mice. This change in xid probably interferes with normal B cell signaling mediated by Btk protein interactions.