To understand more about the factors influencing the cleavage of immunoglobulin A1 (IgA1) by microbial IgA1 proteases, a recombinant human IgA2/IgA1 hybrid molecule was generated. In the hybrid, termed IgA2/A1 half hinge, a seven-amino-acid sequence corresponding to one half of the duplicated sequence making up the IgA1 hinge was incorporated into the equivalent site in IgA2. Insertion of the IgA1 half hinge into IgA2 did not affect antigen binding capacity or the functional activity of the hybrid molecule, as judged by its ability to bind to IgA Fcα receptors and trigger respiratory bursts in neutrophils. Although the IgA2/A1 hybrid contained only half of the IgA1 hinge, it was found to be cleaved by a variety of different bacterial IgA1 proteases, including representatives of those that cleave IgA1 in the different duplicated halves of the hinge, namely, those of Prevotella melaninogenica, Streptococcus pneumoniae, S. sanguis, Neisseria meningitidis types 1 and 2, N. gonorrhoeae types 1 and 2, and Haemophilus influenzae type 2. Thus, for these enzymes the recognition site for IgA1 cleavage is contained within half of the IgA1 hinge region; additional distal elements, if required, are provided by either an IgA1 or an IgA2 framework. In contrast, the IgA2/A1 hybrid appeared to be resistant to cleavage with S. oralis and some H. influenzae type 1 IgA1 proteases, suggesting these enzymes require additional determinants for efficient substrate recognition.