We have identified the lymphocyte semaphorin CD100/Sema4D as a CD40-inducible molecule by subtractive cDNA cloning. CD100 stimulation significantly enhanced the effects of CD40 on B cell responses. Administration of soluble CD100 markedly accelerated in vivo antigen-specific antibody responses. CD100 receptors with different binding affinities were detected on renal tubular cells (K(d) = approximately 1 x 10(-9)M) and lymphocytes (K(d) = approximately 3 x 10(-7)M). Expression cloning revealed that the CD100 receptor on lymphocytes is CD72, a negative regulator of B cell responsiveness. CD72 thus represents a novel class of semaphorin receptors. CD100 stimulation induced tyrosine dephosphorylation of CD72 and dissociation of SHP-1 from CD72. Our findings indicate that CD100 plays a critical role in immune responses by the novel mechanism of turning off negative signaling by CD72.