This study provides a direct quantitative comparison of the helper effects of allogeneic and syngeneic rat T cells in the production of direct SRBC plaque-forming cell (PFC) responses by B cells in culture. In syngeneic T-B combinations, log-log plots of the number of PFC generated after 5.5 days in culture vs. the number of T cells employed as helpers showed a linear response between 10(4) and 2.5 times 10(5) T cells added. Allogeneic T-B combinations, in which the T cells possess the capacity for reactivity to major alloantigens of the B-cell donor, showed a different dose/response relationship in which PFC responses were decreased at high T/B ratios and augmented at low T/B rations. In this system responses were detected with as few as 10(3) allogeneic T cells. Use of negatively selected allogeneic T populations, specifically depleted of mixed lymphocyte interaction (MLI) and graft-vs-host reactivity for B-cell alloantigens, as helpers gave dose/response curves quantitatively identical to responses with syngeneic T-B combinations and also with F1 T-cell parental B-cell combinations. These data indicate that rat T and B cells need not share a major histocompatibility complex haplotype in order to collaborate effectively in a primary direct PFC response to SRBC in culture. In addition, the PFC response required the combinaed presence of T and B cells as well as antigen in the cultures, a finding consistent with the two signal model of B-cell activation. Finally, the dose/response data obtained suggest the possibility that although SRBC antigen is required in the cultures helper activity with low numbers of normal allogeneic T cells may not depend on T cells having specificity for this antigen.