Complement components and complement breakdown products have been found to participate in the regulation of the immune response. In the present study we investigated the effect of C3 and its fragments, C3b, C3c and C3d on human allogeneic cell mediated lympholysis (CML). C3 and C3b at a concentration of 275 M X 10(-9) and C3d at a concentration of 330 M X 10(-9) enhanced human allogeneic CML by at least two fold. In contrast C3c did not affect CML responses. Both C3b and C3d had to be present at the initiation of the cultures in order to exert their effect. Similar doses of C3b and C3d did not affect the mixed lymphocyte responses (3H-thymidine uptake) while higher doses were clearly inhibitory. None of the preparations induced proliferative or cytotoxic responses in the absence of allogeneic stimulating cells. C3b and C3d added to the mixed lymphocyte cultures caused increased production of interleukin 2. We conclude that C3b and C3d facilitate allogeneic cytotoxic responses through increased production of interleukin 2.