A fibroblastoid cell line TSt-4 was established from fetal thymus tissue of C57BL/6 mice. When fetal thymus (FT) cells or CD4-8- (DN) cells of adult thymuses were cultured on the monolayer of TSt-4, a considerable proportion of lymphocytes expressed CD4 or both CD4 and CD8 within 1 day, and the CD4+CD8- cells were maintained further while the CD4+8+ cells disappeared by Day 5. A large proportion of cells generated from DN cells but not FT cells was shown to express CD3 and T cell receptor alpha beta. Addition of recombinant interleukin (IL)-7 into the cultures resulted in a marked increase of cell recovery without virtual change in differentiation process of alpha beta lineage. The present work strongly suggests that thymic fibroblasts play an important role in T cell differentiation and IL-7 contributes to supporting proliferation of differentiated cells.