Lymphocytes circulating in the bloodstream home into lymph nodes (LN). T cells predominate in peripheral LN (PLN) and B cells in spleen or mucosal tissue, e.g. Peyer's patches (PP). DDD/1 mice are unique in marked paucity of LN cells, especially T cells. T cell frequency in PLN was 20-40% in this strain, compared to 60-80% in others. Immunohistochemistry confirmed the low density of T cells in the subcortical area but normal colonization of B cells in cortical area in PLN of DDD/1. In contrast, the T cell content of peripheral blood and spleen was higher in DDD/1 but that in PP was not significantly different compared to other strains. It was thus concluded that this abnormality in DDD/1 results from a homing defect of T cells into PLN but not from lymphopenia. Genetical analysis showed that the defect in T cell-specific homing was regulated by a single autosomal recessive gene, tentatively designated plt (paucity of lymph node T cells). Reciprocal bone marrow transplantation indicated that the plt phenotype may arise from some defect in PLN stroma but not in lymphocytes. An in vivo homing assay using fluorescence-labeled lymphocytes demonstrated that the homing defect was specific for T cells but not for B cells. A Stamper-Woodruff assay revealed that the binding between lymphocytes and PLN high endothelial venules was normal and that L-selectin and its ligand, peripheral node vascular addressin (PNAd), were expressed and functioned normally in DDD/1. These results taken together indicate that the T cell-specific homing into PLN is disturbed at a post-adhesion stage in DDD/1. The product of the plt locus may play a pivotal role at this stage.