Interleukin (IL)-2 can induce large numbers of lymphokine-activated killer cells in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL), but IL-2 alone cannot induce proliferation of a large number of canine (c) PBL. We used the solid phase anti-CD3 antibody and soluble recombinant (r) IL-2 in order to establish a large scale culture method for cPBL. The number of lymphocytes seeded (3 x 10 (7)) increased to 1 x 10(9) after incubation for 10 days. The phenotype of cultured cPBL cells (after 2 weeks) showed a CD4(+) or CD8(+) predominant cell population. The cultured cell solutions were administered with physiological saline intravenously to each dog. After transfusion of the cultured cells, the cPBL counts, especially the number of CD4(+), CD8(+) and CD4(-)CD8 (-)(DN) cells increased significantly in the recipient dogs. Natural killer (NK) cells, gammadeltaT cells and B cells were considered to be present in the DN cell population. The NK cells and gammadeltaT cells showed no adverse reaction to the transfusion of the activated cPBL. Therefore, it is necessary to recognize the B cells present in the DN cell population by detecting CD21(+) cells. In conclusion, the bulk culture system of cPBL with rIL-2 and solid phase anti-CD3 antibody may be useful for the development of novel immunotherapy in dogs.