Three strains of mice were injected with a T-independent antigen, Escherichia coli 055:B5 polysaccharide (PS) combined with purified saponin, QS-21, isolated from Quillaja saponaria bank. PS was prepared by hydrolysis of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Nine week old mice were injected intradermally with 60 micrograms PS, as determined by an anthrone assay, with or without 15 micrograms QS-21 on days 0 and 14. On day 22 sera were assayed by EIA for PS specific antibodies. Titers were 11-fold higher in CD-1 mice with QS-21. C3H/HeJ (Ipsd) and C3H/HeSnJ (Ipsr) mice also showed an adjuvant associated increase in titer with saponin. Therefore, LPS responsiveness was not required for the adjuvant effect. PS vaccinated C3H and CD-1 mice with and without QS-21 had similar antibody isotype profiles. IgG2b titers accounted for more than half of the total Ig response. IgG2a was next highest followed by IgG3, IgM, IgG1, and IgA. In comparison, CD-1 mice injected with 0.1 microgram intact LPS had a different LPS specific isotype profile. IgG3 was the highest followed by IgG1, IgG2b, IgM, IgG2a, and IgA.