The CD28 receptor is stimulated during the contact of T cells with antigen-presenting cells. A counter-receptor for CD28 is the B7 molecule expressed on activated B cells, dendritic cells, and macrophages. B7 also binds to CTLA-4, a receptor that is structurally related to CD28. CTLA-4 is expressed in low copy number by T cells only after activation, but it binds B7 with approximately 20-fold higher affinity than CD28. Inhibition of B7-CD28 interactions blocks immune responses in vitro and in vivo. Therefore, CD28 receptor stimulation is required for T cell responses to antigens and for B cell responses to T-dependent antigens. During T cell responses to antigens, CD28 receptor stimulation may be required to prevent clonal inactivation or anergy. CD28 receptor ligation induces tyrosine phosphorylation of specific substrates, including phospholipase C gamma 1, and triggers both calcium-dependent and calcium-independent signals. The CD28 costimulatory receptor represents a novel target for immunosuppressive drugs.