The relationships between the production of lymphokines, cellular proliferation and antibody synthesis by immune bovine PBL in vitro was examined to identify the cellular reactions responsible for differences in the titres of serum antibodies in calves from selected sire lines and MHC Class I phenotypes. Leucocytes from 22 calves immunized with ovalbumin and DNP-BSA proliferated specifically in vitro in the presence of 1-10 micrograms/ml ovalbumin 7-28 days after the second vaccination. Significant correlations between the production of IL-2, IFN-gamma and maximum proliferation were observed for the total group. The quantity of specific antibody produced when PBL were incubated alone or with 10(-1)-10(-2) micrograms/ml ovalbumin was also correlated significantly with the maximum proliferation and the serum antibody titre between 7 and 14 days. Anti-ovalbumin IgG was also synthesized in MLRs where the quantity of antibody was significantly correlated with the magnitude of proliferation. The responses in vitro to DNP-BSA were too low to provide meaningful comparisons. The results indicate that at intervals during the period of increasing serum titres, events in the bovine antibody response in vivo can be replicated in vitro. In addition, assays for proliferation, IL-2 or gamma-IFN, or specific antibody can be used to assess the magnitude of the immune response in vivo in experimental groups of cattle. Significant sire line differences in the serological responses to ovalbumin were observed but DNP-BSA was a poorer antigen and differences in the responses to this antigen were not significant. However, the sire line differences in vivo were not reflected in vitro in proliferative and lymphokine assays; only the production of antibody in vitro was significantly correlated with the in vivo serum titre.