It has been proposed that CD6, an important regulator of T cells, functions by interacting with its currently identified ligand, CD166, but studies performed during the treatment of autoimmune conditions suggest that the CD6-CD166 interaction might not account for important functions of CD6 in autoimmune diseases. The antigen recognized by mAb 3A11 has been proposed as a new CD6 ligand distinct from CD166, yet the identity of it is hitherto unknown. We have identified this CD6 ligand as CD318, a cell surface protein previously found to be present on various epithelial cells and many tumor cells. We found that, like CD6 knockout (KO) mice, CD318 KO mice are also protected in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. In humans, we found that CD318 is highly expressed in synovial tissues and participates in CD6-dependent adhesion of T cells to synovial fibroblasts. In addition, soluble CD318 is chemoattractive to T cells and levels of soluble CD318 are selectively and significantly elevated in the synovial fluid from patients with rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile inflammatory arthritis. These results establish CD318 as a ligand of CD6 and a potential target for the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and inflammatory arthritis.