GD3, a ganglioside expressed on melanoma, is the only tumour-associated glycolipid described to date that can induce a CD1d-restricted natural killer T (NKT)-cell response. We analysed the fine specificity of GD3-reactive NKT cells and discovered that immunization with GD3 induced two populations of GD3-reactive NKT cells. One population was CD4+ CD8- and was specific for GD3; the other population was CD4- CD8- and cross-reacted with GM3 in a CD1d-restricted manner, but did not cross-react with GM2, GD2, or lactosylceramide. This indicated that the T-cell receptors reacting with GD3 recognize glucose-galactose linked to at least one N-acetyl-neuraminic acid but will not accommodate a terminal N-acetylgalactosamine. Immunization with GM2, GM3, GD2, or lactosylceramide did not induce an NKT-cell response. Coimmunization of GM3-loaded antigen-presenting cells (APCs) with GD3-loaded APCs suppressed the NKT-cell response to GD3 in a CD1d-restricted manner. This suppressive effect was specific for GM3 and was a local effect lasting 2-4 days. In vitro, GM3-loaded APCs also suppressed the interleukin-4 response, but not the interferon-gamma response, of NKT cells to alpha-galactosylceramide. However, there was no effect on the T helper type 2 responses of conventional T cells. We found that this suppression was not mediated by soluble factors. We hypothesize that GM3 induces changes to the APC that lead to suppression of T helper type 2-like NKT-cell responses.