Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a tumor of intermediate-size, IgM+, IgD+ B cells derived from the mantle zone of the germinal center. Little is known about its specific immunologic features or responsiveness to T cell-derived signals. In this work, we evaluated the proliferation and cell cycle properties of freshly isolated MCL cells after CD40 ligation, in the absence and presence of interleukin 4 (IL-4). In each MCL case examined, there was a marked growth-enhancing effect of these two stimuli characterized by improved viability, augmented expression of Ki-67, and induction of the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). Cyclin D1 was expressed throughout the cell cycle in MCL cells induced to enter S phase. From these investigations, we conclude that the biology of MCL B lymphocytes is affected by CD154 (CD40 ligand) and IL-4, two signals usually provided by CD4+ T cells. The capacity to manipulate the activation and cell cycle state of MCL cells by these specific immunological stimuli may be exploited to confer susceptibility to chemotherapy agents and develop novel therapies in this disease.