Ligands and receptors in the tumour necrosis factor (TNF) and tumour necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) superfamilies have been the subject of extensive investigation over the past 10-15 years. For certain TNFR family members, such as Fas and CD40, some of the consequences of receptor ligation were predicted before the identification and cloning of their corresponding ligands through in vitro functional studies using agonistic receptor-specific antibodies. For other members of the TNFR family, including CD30, cross-linking the receptor with specific antibodies failed to yield many clues about the functional significance of the relevant ligand-receptor interactions. In many instances, the subsequent availability of TNF family ligands in the form of recombinant protein facilitated the determination of biological consequences of interactions with their relevant receptor in both in vitro and in vivo settings. In the case of CD30 ligand (CD30L; CD153), definition of its biological role remained frustratingly elusive. Early functional studies using CD30L+ cells or agonistic CD30-specific antibodies logically focused attention on cell types that had been shown to express CD30, namely certain lymphoid malignancies and subsets of activated T cells. However, it was not immediately clear how the reported activities from these in vitro studies relate to the biological activity of CD30L in the more complex whole animal setting. Recently, results from in vivo models involving CD30 or CD30L gene disruption, CD30L overexpression, or pharmacological blockade of CD30/CD30L interactions have begun to provide clues about the role played by CD30L in immunological processes. In this review we consider the reported biology of CD30L and focus on results from several recent studies that point to an important role for CD30/CD30L interactions in humoral immune responses.