Despite its widespread distribution on both lymphoid and myeloid cells, the biological role of the low-affinity immunoglobulin-G receptor, Fc gamma RII, is not fully understood. Defects in this receptor or its signalling pathway in B cells result in perturbations in immune-complex-mediated feedback inhibition of antibody production. We now report that Fc gamma RII-deficient animals display elevated immunoglobulin levels in response to both thymus-dependent and thymus-independent antigens. Additionally, the effector arm of the allergic response is perturbed in these mice. Mast cells from Fc gamma RII-/- are highly sensitive to IgG-triggered degranulation, in contrast to their wild-type counterparts. Fc gamma RII-deficient mice demonstrate an enhanced passive cutaneous analphylaxis reaction, the result of a decreased threshold for mast-cell activation by Fc gamma RIII cross-linking. These results demonstrate that Fc gamma RII acts as a general negative regulator of immune-complex-triggered activation in vivo for both the afferent and efferent limbs of the immune response. Exploiting this property offers new therapeutic opportunities for the treatment of allergic and autoimmune disorders.