Two regions of the gene for the human T-cell leukemia virus subgroup I (HTLV-I) envelope were expressed in Escherichia coli by use of the vector pJLA16. One corresponds to the carboxyl terminal region of the major envelope protein p46, and the other corresponds to the transmembrane protein p21E. Reactivity of the expressed protein with human serum was tested by the Western blot procedure. Each of 11 sera tested that had been shown to contain antibodies to HTLV-I or HTLV-II by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay recognized the bacterially synthesized envelope proteins. There was no reaction detected when 17 control sera were tested. This system will be useful for large-scale seroepidemiological surveys for HTLV-I and related human retroviruses.