Mice passively immunized by a protective, anti-ricin A-chain monoclonal antibody, then challenged intravenously with ricin, were protected from a subsequent ricin challenge, and were actively immunized. Two significant advantages accrued from this experiment: the monoclonal antibody neutralized the toxicity of the ricin immunogen, and active immunization was achieved with very low antigen load (approximately 0.5 microgram/mouse). We ruled out the possibility that residual monoclonal antibody provided the protection by using three independent criteria. There was significant (four orders of magnitude) enhancement of the immune response in the presence of the monoclonal antibody; control immunizations of mice with ricin A-chain, ricin B-chain or either chain with the monoclonal antibody did not induce active immunity; and the active immunization could not be replicated when protective goat polyclonal antibody was substituted for the monoclonal antibody. Because high titres were achieved rapidly without any adjuvant, we are currently investigating haptenized ricin to determine if anti-hapten monoclonal antibodies can be produced by this refined procedure.