The existence of functionally distinct T lymphocyte subsets in man, initially demonstrated with heteroantisera, has been confirmed with monoclonal reagents. Two major subsets have been defined: Leu-2 cells, which effect cell mediated lymphocytotoxicity (CML), and Leu-3 cells, which amplify CML and other T cell functions. This study is an effort to determine the effects of these subsets on the immunoglobulin secretion induced in the human mixed leukocyte reaction (MLR). T cells were separated from non-T cells by rosetting with sheep erythrocytes and were fractionated into Leu-2 and Leu-3 subsets by solid phase immunoabsorption with monoclonal antibodies. T cell subsets were cultured with autologous non-T cells and irradiated allogeneic stimulator non-T cells. Secretion of IgM and IgG was measured by a reverse hemolytic plaque assay. MLR-induced antibody secretion was specifically dependent on the Leu-3 T lymphocyte subset. The Leu-2 subset was incapable of generating large numbers of IgM- or IgG-secreting cells, and, in fact, suppressed the Leu-3-induced response. Exposure of Leu-3 cells to a dose of irradiation sufficient to prevent their proliferation in MLR did not reduce induced immunoglobulin secretion. Leu-2-mediated suppression, however, was sensitive to low dose irradiation. Thus Ig secretion in human MLR is regulated by a balance of helper activity from the Leu-3 subset and suppressor activity from the Leu-2 subset.