In the present study, we examined the participation of CD40 ligand (L)-CD40 interaction in T cell-dependent B cell responses. To this end, purified B lymphocytes were cultured over irradiated CD4+ cloned T cells activated with immobilized anti-CD3 antibody. The anti-CD40 mAb 89 strongly blocked, in a specific fashion, both proliferation and Ig secretion of tonsil B cells. Interestingly, proliferation of surface (s)IgD+ B cell was significantly less inhibited by anti-CD40 than that of sIgD- cells. Preactivated T cells induced B cells to grow and secrete immunoglobulins preferentially in response to IL-2. This contrasts with the CD40 system where B cells are essentially responsive to IL-4 and IL-10 but not to IL-2 alone. Collectively, these data indicate that CD40L-CD40 interaction plays an important role in IL-2 mediated T cell-dependent B cell responses. However, the activation of a subset of sIgD+ cells may be independent of this interaction.