Tolerance to self-antigens has been shown to develop during ontogeny as a result of the clonal deletion of self-reactive T cells. Tolerance, or better 'nonresponsiveness', to specific antigens can also be induced in adult animals but the mechanism(s) involved are not well understood. Most murine T-helper cells that express the V beta 6 T-cell receptor gene segment are specific for Mls-1a antigens. We have therefore been able to use an anti-V beta 6 monoclonal antibody to follow the fate of Mls-1a specific T cells in adult Mls-1b mice made specifically unresponsive to Mls-1a. We show that the induced unresponsiveness is not due to clonal deletion, but rather to clonal anergy. The anergic V beta 6 T-helper cells express IL-2 receptors and undergo limited blastogenesis in vitro upon stimulation, but do not produce IL-2, in marked contrast to V beta 6 cells from naive mice. Our data appear to represent an in vivo correlate for the induction of anergy that has been observed in T-cell lines in vitro.