Cultured cells from Micropolyspora faeni-sensitized donors can adoptively transfer murine experimental hypersensitivity pneumonitis (EHP). To determine whether the CD4+ cells responsible for transfer have characteristics of Th1 or Th2 cells, we established cell lines from lung-associated lymph nodes of M. faeni-sensitized C3H/HeJ mice by culturing with antigen and either IFN-gamma, IL2, and anti-IL4, or IL4. Cell lines were stimulated regularly with antigen, fresh antigen-presenting cells, and the cytokine/anti-cytokine antibody cocktail. At various times after initiation of culture, cells were injected intravenously into recipients, which were then challenged intratracheally with M. faeni and sacrificed and the extent of pulmonary inflammatory response was determined. IFN-gamma, IL4, and IL10 levels were determined in supernatants of cell cultures stimulated with M. faeni to characterize the cell lines as Th1 (IFN-gamma, but low IL4 and IL10 secretion) or Th2 (IL4 and IL10, but low IFN-gamma secretion). Cell lines were differentiated into either Th1 (IFN-gamma = 310 +/- 45 U/ml, IL4 = 0.10 +/- 0.1 U/ml, IL10 = 1750 +/- 75 pg/ ml, >99% CD4+) cell lines by Day 16 of culture or Th2 cell lines (IFN-gamma = 1.8 +/- 1.0 U/ml, IL4 = 830 +/- 388 U/ml, IL10 = 51,700 +/- 10,900 pg/ml, >96% CD4+) by Day 30. Th1 cell lines were able to adoptively transfer EHP whereas Th2 cell lines were unable to adoptively transfer EHP. The ability to transfer EHP was directly related to the amount of IFN-gamma and inversely to the amount of IL4 secreted by antigen-stimulated cells. We conclude that it is possible to produce CD4+ cell lines with either Th1 or Th2 characteristics from lung-associated lymph nodes of mice exposed to M. faeni and that only Th1 CD4+ cell lines can adoptively transfer EHP.