Reduced-intensity conditioning regimens for transplant recipients have heightened awareness of immunologic resistance to allogeneic bone marrow transplants (BMT). Although T cell-mediated cytotoxicity has been assumed to play a role in the resistance against donor allogeneic hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell grafts, several studies have reported relatively unimpaired resistance by recipients who lack perforin, Fas ligand (FasL), and other cytotoxic mediators. This study compared the early kinetics of T cell-mediated resistance in B6 (H2b) cytotoxically normal versus deficient recipients after transplantation with major histocompatibility complex-matched, minor histocompatibility antigen (MiHA)-mismatched allogeneic marrow grafts. Wild-type B6 or cytotoxic double-deficient perforin-/-/gld+/+ (B6-cdd) mice were sensitized against major histocompatibility complex-matched BALB.B or C3H.SW (H2b) MiHA and transplanted with a high dose (1 x 10(7)) of T cell-depleted bone marrow. CD8 T memory cells were shown to be present in recipients before BMT, and anti-CD8 monoclonal antibody infusion abolished resistance, thus demonstrating that CD8 T cells are the host effector population. Donor-committed and high proliferative potential progenitor numbers were markedly diminished by 48 hours after transplantation in both wild-type B6 and B6-cdd anti-donor MiHA-sensitized recipients. These observations indicate that the resistance pathway used in the cytotoxic deficient mice was both potent and rapidly induced--consistent with a CD8 memory T-cell response. To examine the role of Tumor necrosis factor-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK)- and TL1A-mediated cytotoxicity in this strong resistance, newly generated monoclonal antibodies specific for these ligands were administered to B6-cdd recipients sensitized to donor antigens. Recipients of syngeneic B6-gfp bone marrow exhibited significant donor colony-forming unit numbers after BMT. In contrast, low or absent colony-forming unit levels were detected in allogeneic recipients, including those that lacked perforin and FasL and that received anti-TWEAK, anti-tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand, and anti-TL1A monoclonal antibodies. These findings extend previous observations by demonstrating the existence of a rapidly effected resistance pathway mediated by memory CD8 effector T cells independent of the 2 major pathways of cytotoxicity. Together with previous findings, these results support the notion that effector cells derived from memory CD8 T-cell populations can mediate strong resistance against donor allogeneic MiHA-disparate hematopoietic engraftment by using a mechanism that is independent of the contribution of perforin, FasL, and the known death ligand receptor pathways.