Seven inbred rat strains were tested for susceptibility to experimental type II collagen-induced arthritis and for development of cellular immunity to type II collagen by delayed hypersensitivity skin testing. WF (RT1u), LEW (RT1l), and DA (RT1a) were the most susceptible of the strains tested with respect to incidence (greater than 95%) and severity of disease. LEW and DA were strongly skin test reactive to calf type II collagen. BUF (RT1b) developed moderate skin test responses to calf type II collagen and showed low susceptibility to collagen arthritis (1/8). MAXX (RT1n), LEW.B3 (RT1nvl), and AUG (RT1c) were not susceptible to collagen arthritis and showed negative to very weak skin test responses to type II collagen. Disease susceptibility was inherited as a dominant trait in the F1 progeny of (WF X LEW.B3) matings. These data suggest that clinical expression of experimental collagen-induced arthritis and immune responsiveness to type II collagen are controlled in part by genes within or closely linked to the rat major histocompatibility complex--RT1.