T cell activation can be profoundly altered by coinhibitory and costimulatory molecules. B and T lymphocyte attenuator (BTLA) is a recently identified inhibitory Ig superfamily cell surface protein found on lymphocytes and APC. In this study we analyze the effects of an agonistic anti-BTLA mAb, PK18, on TCR-mediated T cell activation. Unlike many other allele-specific anti-BTLA mAb we have generated, PK18 inhibits anti-CD3-mediated CD4+ T cell proliferation. This inhibition is not dependent on regulatory T cells, nor does the Ab induce apoptosis. Inhibition of T cell proliferation correlates with a profound reduction in IL-2 secretion, although this is not the sole cause of the block of cell proliferation. In contrast, PK18 has no effect on induction of the early activation marker CD69. PK18 also significantly inhibits, but does not ablate, IL-2 secretion in the presence of costimulation as well as reduces T cell proliferation under limiting conditions of activation in the presence of costimulation. Similarly, PK18 inhibits Ag-specific T cell responses in culture. Interestingly, PK18 is capable of delivering an inhibitory signal as late as 16 h after the initiation of T cell activation. CD8+ T cells are significantly less sensitive to the inhibitory effects of PK18. Overall, BTLA adds to the growing list of cell surface proteins that are potential targets to down-modulate T cell function.