To investigate the possible function(s) of T cell receptor (TcR) gamma delta expressing lymphocytes, we generated a series of gamma delta TcR surface positive hybridomas. Spontaneous producers of IL-2 were quite common among these hybridomas, particularly those expressing a certain V delta gene or gene family (V delta M23). Several other experiments indicated that IL-2 production in these hybridomas is triggered via TcR gamma delta. Surprisingly, every spontaneously reactive gamma delta+ hybridoma was further stimulated by purified protein derivative (PPD) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, perhaps due to crossreaction with a bacterial antigen homologous to certain eukaryotic heat shock proteins. The finding of an antigen recognized by a gamma delta TcR could aid in understanding the functional role of the gamma delta TcR+ lymphocytes.