Human embryonic epsilon globin chains were isolated from lysates of cultured human leukemic K562 cells induced with hemin. Mice were immunized with epsilon globin chains, and a murine hybridoma cell line was established that secreted monoclonal anti-epsilon globin antibody. A sensitive and specific slot blot immunoassay for epsilon globin chains has been developed. epsilon Globin chains were shown to be present in hemolysates from fetuses of 20 weeks' gestation but were not detected in normal cord blood hemolysates. This immunoassay is useful for the study of epsilon globin ontogeny during embryonic and fetal development as well as for searching for inappropriate epsilon globin chain expression in hematologic disorders resulting from genetic abnormalities or neoplastic processes.