Tissue-specific and lymphocyte subset-specific lymphocyte recirculation patterns have been analysed simultaneously. Lymphocytes obtained from one lymph compartment were directly labelled with fluorochrome in vitro and returned to the blood of the same animal. Over the next 48-72 h, the recirculation of these cells into both the same lymph compartment and at least one different lymph compartment was monitored. The cells in all of these lymph collections, as well as an aliquot of the cells used for direct fluorescent labelling, were then phenotyped with monoclonal antibodies (mAb) which define the mutually exclusive small CD4+ and CD8+ T-lymphocyte subsets in sheep. All cell samples were analysed by flow cytometry and CD4/CD8 ratios were determined for the recirculated, fluorochrome-labelled population in each lymph collection. The mean CD4/CD8 ratio calculated for each lymph compartment was then compared with the CD4/CD8 ratio calculated for each lymph compartment was then compared with the CD4/CD8 ratio of the transfused, starting population. In one experiment employing efferent prescapular lymph cells, three experiments employing efferent intestinal lymph cells, and two experiments employing afferent intestinal lymph cells, tissue-specific recirculation was observed. In all of these experiments, the pattern of recirculation of small CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes was non-random. Moreover, in each experiment, this non-randomness was completely unrelated to tissue-specific phenomena, since the mean CD4/CD8 ratio of the recirculated population was higher than the CD4/CD8 ratio of the transfused, starting population regardless of the lymph compartment examined. These data are therefore consistent with the hypothesis that tissue-specific and lymphocyte subset-specific lymphocyte-endothelial cell recognition mechanisms independently direct the recirculation of small lymphocytes from blood to lymph.