A kidney cortex cDNA clone (rBAT) has recently been isolated, which upon in vitro transcription and capping complementary RNA (cRNA) and injection into Xenopus laevis oocytes induces a system b0,(+)-like amino acid transport activity. This cDNA encodes a type II membrane glycoprotein that shows significant homology to another type II membrane glycoprotein, the heavy chain of the human and mouse 4F2 surface antigen (4F2hc). Here we demonstrate that injection of human 4F2hc cRNA into oocytes results in the activation of a cation-preferring amino acid transport system that appears to be identical to the y(+)-like transport already present in the oocyte. This is based on the following results: (i) Injection of in vitro transcripts from 4F2hc cDNA (4F2hc cRNA) into oocytes stimulates up to 10-fold the sodium-independent uptake of L-arginine and up to 4.1-fold the sodium-dependent uptake of L-leucine. In contrast, 4F2hc cRNA does not increase the basal sodium-independent uptake of L-leucine. (ii) Basal and 4F2hc cRNA-stimulated sodium-independent uptake of L-arginine is completely inhibited by L-leucine in the presence of sodium. Similarly, the basal and 4F2hc cRNA-stimulated sodium-dependent uptake of L-leucine is entirely inhibited by L-arginine. (iii) The stimulation of sodium-independent uptake of L-arginine and the stimulation of sodium-dependent uptake of L-leucine induced by injection of 4F2hc cRNA are both completely inhibited by dibasic L amino acids and to a lesser extent by D-ornithine. (iv) Both basal and 4F2hc cRNA-stimulated sodium-independent uptake of L-arginine show two additional characteristics of the system y+ transport activity: inhibition of L-arginine uptake by L-homoserine only in the presence of sodium and an increase in the inhibition exerted by L-histidine as the extracellular pH decreased. Our results allow us to propose that an additional family of type II membrane glycoproteins (composed by rBAT and 4F2hc) is involved in amino acid transport, either as specific activators or as components of amino acid transport systems.