Heat-stable antigen (HSA) is a murine differentiating antigen that is expressed on both CD4-CD8- double-negative and CD4+CD8+ double-positive thymocytes but not CD4+ or CD8+ single-positive thymocytes. Effects of anti-HSA monoclonal antibody, R13, on thymocyte apoptosis induced by various stimulations were investigated by a single-cell suspension culture system. Immobilized R13 enhanced the CD3-mediated DNA fragmentation and killing of thymocytes but not the dexamethasone-induced or phorbol myristate acetate-induced killing of thymocytes. Immobilized R13 by itself could not induce thymocyte apoptosis. Soluble R13 enhanced CD3-mediated apoptosis when HSA and T-cell receptor (TCR)/CD3 were co-cross-linked by a cross-reactive secondary antibody. Even without the cross-reactive secondary antibody, soluble R13 enhanced CD3-mediated apoptosis, although a greater than 100-fold increase in the amount of R13 was needed to give a similar enhancement compared with immobilized R13. Neither R13 by itself nor R13 plus secondary antibody induced cytosolic calcium influx, whereas R13 enhanced CD3-mediated cytosolic calcium increase. These results suggest a functional role of HSA in promoting the activation-induced apoptosis of thymocytes and the involvement of HSA in negative selection.