Adult mice pretreated with donor-specific transfusion and depleting anti-CD4 antibody 28 days before transplant accept fully allogeneic heart grafts and become specifically tolerant without further treatment. The induction of tolerance in this model is not simply a function of CD4+ T cell ablation, but appears to depend on residual CD4+ T cells which escape depletion and engage donor alloantigen during a transient period of antibody blockade. To test the hypothesis that these CD4+ T cells might be responsible for regulating immune responses toward the graft, mice were reconstituted with naive recipient leukocytes at various times after pretreatment. Reconstitution either shortly after pretreatment or shortly after transplant had little effect on graft survival. However, when pretreated mice were given an additional dose of depleting anti-CD4 antibody at the time of transplant to target putative regulatory cells, naive leukocytes were able to cause acute graft rejection. These data suggest that in clinical transplantation specific T cell regulation might develop following pretreatment with antigen and non-depleting anti-CD4 antibodies. Such an approach could provide donor-specific unresponsiveness prior to transplant without the risks associated with sustained CD4+ T cell depletion.